Friday, December 19, 2008

It's so lovely to have a link ...

Every so often I have a look at Sitemeter to see who's visiting and from where - mostly Ireland, a few from the UK or US and most surprisingly Australia! When I looked today, I found that someone had been referred from a blog called Muse in Melbourne. The Muse, who appears to have relocated from Craggy Island where she was parochial housekeeper, was kind enough to include a link to this blog on hers. I'm happy to reciprocate but was just wondering is there anyone else out there who has linked to Peregrinus Hibernensis but to whom I've not returned the courtesy? Please let me know! Sorbonnetoga - at - will find me.

On the topic of Sitemeter, someone from the US also visited from; I emailed an old friend who originally hails from Carrick-on-Shannon on his SBC Global email address a while back. So if that was you (and you're PAB from Carrick) please let me know, old chap, if you got either of my two emails in October.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Not pedantic but precise ,,,

My darling wife once referred to me as being "pedantic". I got a bit offended because being in the line of work that I am, precision in argument and citation of evidence is highly prized. So I prefer to think that I'm precise rather than pedantic, and nowadays so does my wife! (For some reason Proverbs 31:10-31 keeps springing to mind.)

Anyway à propos of precision, I alway get a little put out when I hear a mention of the Douay-Rheims bible (DRB) as the last word in Catholic versions of Sacred Scripture. Now I love the Douay-Rheims as much as the next man (or probably more) but let's be honest it's more or less unreadable! To the average, reasonably educated English-speaking Catholic it's well-nigh gibberish. At this point, many a well-intentioned Traditional-minded Catholic will be ready to hurl anathemas at me and probably to set up a stake to deal with me in properly Traditional way! However, the chances are that said Trad has never actually read the Douay-Rheims in the whole course of his life. Rather he has read the Douay-Rheims-Challoner (DRC) and thought it to be the same as the 1582 and 1609 editions of the New and Old Testaments respectively, published at Douai and Reims. A quick glance, though, at the bottom of the title page of just about any edition claiming to be a DRB will usually have a disclaimer to the effect that "The whole revised and diligently compared with the Latin Vulgate by Bishop Challoner in 1749-1752 A.D."

Just how different the DRB is from the DRC was shown by the Venerable John Henry Newman in his essay on the history of the DRB.

Anyway, this is my personal hobby-horse; when I hear someone lauding the DRChalloner as if it were the DRB, it gets my back up. I'd much prefer that they took the trouble to be accurate, that's all. Of course, this won't prevent me from pointing out that Baronius Press has a DRC and Sixto-Clementine Vulgate (SCV) in parallel text available for pre-order at approx €65. It's leather-bound, hardback and has a substantial "family Bible" look to it. Perfect for the budding Latin scholar!

I'm tempted to carry on ranting about how the Roman Missal (1962) doesn't use the Vulgate text half as much as you think it does (Introit for the Requiem Mass, anyone?) but perhaps I'll leave it there for now. I'm serious about the Baronius edition, though. It's built to last, and would make a perfect Christmas present for the TLM fan or wanna-be Latin scholar in your life.

(On a strictly private note: don't even think about it, my love. I already have 2 SCVs and a DRB, and no room for any more!)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

1968 and all that ...

This post originally appeared in the Brandsma Review , along with lots of other excellent stuff! Information on how to subscribe is available at their website.

Peter de Rosa opined in the Herald (July 23) on Humanae Vitae. His piece was a catalogue of misconceptions (if you'll excuse the pun!) and is one of the strongest indications yet of how the opponents of HV are stuck in the past. Mr de Rosa seems to be fighting the battles of forty years ago with the knowledge and insight of forty years ago. Put bluntly, Paul VI was right in his predictions and thus his moral teaching has an ever-increasing credibility for those who examine it with an open mind.

However let's return to De Rosa and his reminiscences for a moment.
... After lecturing in ethics at the Westminster Seminary, I moved on to teach theology at Corpus Christi, an international college. It was there I did the unforgivable: I contradicted the Pope on a matter of ethics.

The main contention here is simply not true. Contradicting the Pope is not unforgiveable; as with many things in the Church, forgiveness is offered upon repentance. The way back is always simple. Say sorry!
When Paul VI banned all forms of contraception, I openly disagreed, beginning with personal letters to the London Times and Time Magazine ... I organised a letter to The Times of polite disagreement from the UK clergy ... Over 100 priests signed up ... Meanwhile, they persuaded many of the signatories to withdraw this "terrible insult to the Holy Father". Fifty-five priests stayed with me.

This is where we see a more telling picture begins to emerge. This isn't a heartfelt, agonising decision for a loyal priest who genuinely believes the Church has taken the wrong path. This is a man who is planning and executing a political campaign. He is in the business of rounding up signatures and making common cause with the news media against the Church. Moreover, De Rosa seems on his own account to have turned it into a sort of popularity contest. Thus 55 priests "stayed with me" as if loyalty to the person of De Rosa were some sort of virtue!

What is particularly disturbing about this paragraph is that it opens with a statement that is seriously misleading. Mind you, I'm not suggesting that De Rosa is being deliberately dishonest. He could be so historically ill-informed that he genuinely believes that out of the blue and as a new departure "Paul VI banned all forms of contraception". It is possible that he has persuaded himself that Pope Paul VI made a radical departure rather than simply reaffirming almost 2000 years of constant Christian witness. Or it's possible that he is being a little careless in what is after all a newpaper op-ed, not a scholarly treatise. The fact remains that Pope Paul VI continued what had been the constant practice of the Christian Churches East and West, which was established from immemorial custom at the time De Rosa was ordained. He claims to have "loved his vocation" but from the outset his vocation was to the priesthood of a Church that had an absolute ban on contraceptive marital intercourse (scroll down to no's 53-56). He knew well that for nigh on two millennia the Church had set her face against contraception of whatever kind; after the Anglicans sold the pass Pope Pius XI deliberately reiterated the Church's teaching on contraception so that no-one could be left in any doubt. Is De Rosa aware of the obvious implication that after so many years of study (presumably involving theological study) he wasn't aware of that teaching? Or did he volunteer for the priesthood on a purely provisional basis, i.e. not the Church as he actually found her but as he wanted her to be?
I had no problem with what the bishops did. They run a totalitarian regime in which the Pope has absolute power.

Obiviously he had no problem with it, that's why FORTY YEARS LATER he's still complaining about it in a newspaper. (Although it must be a bit of a comedown from the [London] Times and Time Magazine to the Herald!) The business about totalitarianism is risible, however. The Pope has immense spiritual authority which comes from Christ. He has at last count no secret police, a very few armed men who would be over-run in minutes by any determined military force, no prison, no torture apparatus, no Gulag or Laogai and in fact none of the structures of a modern totalitarian state. If De Rosa or anyone else wants out of the Catholic Church, all he has to do is say so. And no-one can stop him! As for absolute power, that's even more ridiculous. The Pope has no power to change the content of the Faith. He has no power to change the Natural Law. He can no more add a Person to the Holy Trinity than he can make murder moral; he is bound by teaching of Christ and the Church. He couldn't alter that even to accommodate Peter De Rosa.

I was the one out of line. I warned the remaining signatories we would never have clerical preferment. We'd be lucky to survive.

This is a very odd comment to make. He's just taken a long-standing solemn teaching of a very old institution indeed and trashed it publicly. He's done so after having taken a salary from the self-same institution for many years. He even (at Ordination) promised obedience to his Ordinary (and that Bishop's successors) and was now reneging on that promise. With all that, his principal concern seems to be for his prospects of promotion! Any reasonable person, who lived in the real world as opposed to some sort of clericalist cocoon would realise that this kind of behaviour gets you fired, and rightly so. What's even odder is the "lucky to survive" comment. Survive as priests? Why would they even want to? If they disagree that profoundly with a seriously held and institutionally reinforced position of that kind, isn't resignation the honourable course of action? Alternatively, we might be in Dan Brown territory where De Rosa and his cohort feared not for their livelihood but for their lives. Did he get wind of an albino assassin haunting the precincts of the Westminster diocese?
... scarier things were to come ... Bishops told us individually to recant. Unless we did, we would lose our present posts. If we continued to disobey, we would have to leave the priesthood ... My discussions with Cardinal Heenan were friendly. But he still threatened me. If I openly contradicted the Pope once more I would never have another teaching post in the Church.

There's that pesky promise of obedience again, freely entered into and given voluntarily. What's even more amazing is that De Rosa seems to see himself as some sort of martyr. When he promised to obey, he was offering an open-ended gift of himself and his whole life. He was called on it. The demand to pay was not with his blood, like a genuine martyr but only with his job. Of course he could have taken the alternative course of humility. Supposing he had said to himself "The Church is a lot older and wiser than I am ... She also has certain guarantees from Christ regarding not falling into error ... OK I'll give way to her judgment and see if I can find a way to live with this". Or he could simply have said "The Church is wrong but I was wrong to sign up for the priesthood under these conditions. She's keeping to her view but mine has changed, so I quit!" Either of these positions would have been both honest and honourable. Instead of which ...
I met with him on a regular basis after that, trying to find an accommodation. None was possible, of course.

Now there's a surprise! A priest who dissents from the formal, solemn teaching of the Church cannot be accommodated!

Then we get to the really fun part, where 1968 comes alive again, as if science and demographics have been preserved in amber for the last 40 years. (And as if 40 years of experience haven't shown that NFP is as effective as ANY form of artificial contraception at avoiding pregnancy but without the side effects!)
I believed then, as now, that the ban on contraception was a disaster. Pastoral experience taught me that it led to marital misery. Most Catholic couples rejected official policy; they respected the Pope but honoured God and their families more.

Marital Misery? Strong words. How exactly, I wonder? Too many children, perhaps. In which case one could simply ask the question, which one would you give back? Perhaps, he is referring to the genuinely hard cases of a wife with a violent spouse who simply cannot face another pregnancy. Of course the Church is pretty clear about what she should do - GET OUT fast, and use the protection of civil law against her sinful husband. Perhaps he means rampant marital breakdown, which we all know was stopped dead in its tracks by the widespread rejection of HV. Or maybe he's referring to the spread of venereal diseases which of course thrive in an environment where a man sees his wife as his "respected and beloved companion" (HV 17) to whom he is faithful.
Two years later when I was finally forced out ... I said the world population had reached three billion. By 2000, it would be six billion. To think we could stop the nuclear explosion of people by sexual abstinence and the safe period was like suggesting we try emptying the English Channel with a teaspoon ...
Two years? Why on earth did it take that long? Would a police officer who refused to enforce laws he didn't like be given that much leeway? Would a politician who refused to follow the party line have two years grace? Of course this is where De Rosa's problem with outdated demographics come into play. He honestly seems to believe that entomologist Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb has actually been vindicated. It most assuredly has not. The problem in the West, at least, is not too many people but too few. Fertility is not increasing but decreasing. We are in fact facing into a demographic winter.

However, Mr De Rosa seems to be determined not to allow the facts to get in the way of a good story, even if they are facts with which he could reasonably be expected to acquaint himself, particularly if he bases his justification of such a major decision on them.
... I realised later I could have remained a priest had I merely sexually abused children ... I felt, however, that I had escaped after 21 years solitary confinement. I was a free man at last.

His peroration is a nauseating combination of a gratuitous cheap shot on the one hand and a piece of self-aggrandising nonsense on the other. The fact that child abusing priests were tolerated for so long has precisely nothing to do with De Rosa's rejection of Humanae Vitae. It's simply a gratuitous piece of nastiness on his part. The reference to "21 years of solitary confinement" is both contradictory and offensive. To say that he experienced six years of seminary life and fifteen years of priesthood as "solitary confinement" hardly matches his reference to "the vocation I loved" and "dreamed of ... since I was five". To suggest that his experience, even if he found it tough, was comparable to that of Fr Walter Ciszek (who REALLY spent five years in solitary)or Fr Alfred Delp or Ignatius Pin-Mei Cardinal Kung is simply crass. I'm sorry he didn't remain faithful to his ordination promise and indeed to his vocation but God can bring great good even out of betrayal and disloyalty. As a response to men like De Rosa (and many others) the great good of The Theology of the Body, NFP and the whole counter-cultural witness of the Church in the contemporary period has arisen. It's just a pity that men like De Rosa are so trapped in the past that they can't be a part of it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Really, really impressive crew!

I was wandering around the web earlier and by following a link from a favourite site to another site to another and so on, I found these great guys (and gals). They answer in plain and simple English common but occasionally difficult questions about the Faith, mostly from teenagers. This site is brilliant and deserves a big prize! What they want however is not a prize but a heavenly patron, so go over here and help them pick one. (SUBTLE HINT: St Augustine is not only very cool but also spent some time answering random questions from members of his community.)

Rules for writing ...

I found this a while back but finally I'm managing to post it ...

1. The passive voice is to be avoided.
2. Avoid alliteration. Always.
3. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
4. Avoid clichés like the plague (they're old hat.)
5. Comparisons are as bad as clichés too.
6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
7. Contractions aren't necessary either.
8. Never generalise.
9. Be more or less specific.
10. Don't be redundant - don't use more words than
necessary because it's highly superfluous.
11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:
"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
12. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
13. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
14. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
15. Who needs rhetorical questions anyway?
16. Always sue a spell hcecker.

Of course this is a parody of E. A. Blair's short but memorable list of rules for (political) writing, which is in turn part of an essay:

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech
which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word,
or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Unfortunately, poor Mr Blair fell into the old trap of imagining that politics was the most important human pursuit that could or even should command ultimate human allegiance. He was a shrewd commentator on human affairs, all the same.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Will Shakespeare knew his stuff!

I came across a very American email bulletin recently. It's called "The Art of Manliness" and is 50% common sense, 25% motivational talk and 25% nonsense. (Actually the biggest mistake it makes is imagining that one can learn how to be a man from attempting manly things one read in an email! Either one learns from one's father or a father-figure or sadly, one simply doesn't learn at all.) However it's a laudable effort in its own, rather eccentric way.

They attempted a commentary on Henry V's Agincourt speech from Shakespeare's eponymous play. The author of the piece suggests that if you "Read this fictional, and yet powerful speech when you’re feeling unmotivated and depressed" then "it will stir you to focus on the legacy you are building and will pass on to your sons and to history." I'm not so sure that reading a speech would do that for me but each to his own, I guess.

Also, don't be too sure about the fictional bit. The language may be Shakespeare's own but parts of the speech itself are historically verifiable. The lines "be he ne’er so vile / This day shall gentle his condition" meant that a "vile" man i.e. a villein or landless labourer would get land and social status of his own (he'd become gentle, i.e. a gentleman). In the reign of Henry VII it was specified that no-one could bear a coat of arms or heraldic devices without a proper grant from one of the highest-ranking heraldic officials, a King of Arms, except those who could show descent from a veteran of Agincourt. Shakespeare may have made great poetry but there was also a lot of perfectly good history in it too! In typical fashion, it gives not just high sentiment (we few, we happy few, we band of brothers etc.) but also practicalities (financial independence and social status when you get home, boys!) It seemed to work too.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Moral of the story? Don't fly Ryanair!

Herself and myself needed to book flights for our little getaway after the wedding. She volunteered to take care of it. She tried Aerlingus and found very reasonable flights. She then found that having asked for prices for 2 (as in TWO the number between 1 and 3) people, she was being quoted for only 1 person! So having established that Aerlingus are every bit as stupid as they look, she turned to O'Leary's Cobbled-Together Rubbish AirlineTM.

Her further tale of woe is here. Perhaps somebody could set me straight. Has Ryanair ever won a case where a passenger sued them? I only ever remember them losing ... but then with Michael O'Leary giving evidence, they probably didn't create the best impression.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy Days....

Right now I'm sitting in front of the computer, desperately trying to sit still! I spent most of the day finishing paperwork for the half-time day job which feels very satisfying but isn't really what I went into philosophy to do. The "trying to sit still" bit was waiting for Herself to arrive - she just got here and is next door drinking tea with the Mammy. (She has a job interview in Dublin, hence a midweek visit but she can, between times, "work from home" i.e. my home, via broadband! Ain't technology grand?)

On the day-job end of things, I had a paper accepted for a book to be put out by this fine (but not notably cheap) publisher. The book promises to be a veritable feast of Scholastic Thought with everything from Eriugena to Gille of Limerick (Medieval Canonist, don't ya know) to the Irish Colleges in Europe in the 17th century! My own (very modest) contribution is just a survey of the once-thriving field of Scholastic Philosophy in Ireland from 1900 to 1975-ish. (Having just re-read the paper as I submitted it, I find that the content is ok, i.e. not egregiously wrong but the proof reading is non-existent. Oh well ...)

Lastly, I have finally mustered up the courage to begin the process of re-writing and generally finishing off a survey paper (I seem to be doing a lot of those ...) on the man whose loss so many of us are still mourning. It's incomplete but then his philosophical project was, in the best sense, incomplete, in that it was in full flow and nowhere close to exhausted when he was taken from us so suddenly. However, what I want to do with this, in a small way, is to give some flavour of what he did and was, philosophically; my hope is, of course, that anyone who reads it would go on to read this or this or any of his other works. To that end I'll include an updated Thomas A. F. Kelly Bibliography in it. I only wish he were here, so that I could tell him all about it. Of course, he'd be flattered and embarassed that anyone would take an interest in his work. Long may they continue to do so.

Monday, August 04, 2008

A snapshot ...

How's this for a snapshot of my humble little blog? This nifty site will take your blog and scan it for frequently used words. It then takes those and allows you to choose fonts and colours, and creates a word-cloud. It's pretty isn't it? Discovered courtesy of the frummest Jewish blog on the Net, which is also the best film/cinema history blog on the Net. (It also contains what is without exception the Single Most Romantic Story on the World-Wide-Web, which has the added advantage of being true.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy 40th Birthday, Humanae Vitae!

I have let this particular anniversary pass without comment thus far because the blog post I prepared on it has been spruced up, sent to The Brandsma Review and will appear in their next print issue. I'll post it here at some stage after the print copies are out.

On July 25th of this year, one of the landmark Encyclicals of the modern papacy marked its 40th Anniversary. I'm referring, of course, to Humanae Vitae. After all the gushing optimism of the 1960s both in the world and in the Church, this was the moment when the successor of Peter stood athwart history and yelled Stop!

Of course, the world at large to the extent that it even bothered to listen to what Paul VI had to say, dismissed it out of hand. There is little doubt that Paul was right, however, and the evidence for this comes on two grounds. One is the natural moral law. If we take it (as Christians by and large do) that God created us with a definite nature and made that nature good, then anything which damages or frustrates an integral part of that nature is, ipso facto bad. Thus when Pope Paul said that the physical act of love between spouses should always be open to life, no Christian who trusts in the goodness of God's creation can ultimately have a problem with that. As soon as we make a simulacrum of the most intimate act of total commitment between spouses, we falsify human love. When that sort of act between husband and wife is meant by its very nature to entail total openness, complete vulnerability of the spouses to each other and an absolute, unconditional trust, contraception makes of it a lie. "Safe sex" as someone said is a bit like "safe love", a contradiction in terms. Of course, I am here perpetuating (albeit unavoidably) the myth that contraception has any intrinsic connection with marriage. For the most part, it doesn't; rather, it exists to allow men to exploit women sexually.

And this leads neatly to the second sort of evidence that Humanae Vitae was right. In the Encyclical, specifically no. 17, Pope Paul points out what he believed then would be the harmful consequences of widespread use of contraception. The earlier objections could be made on the basis of philosophical assumptions or arguments; these latter claims are actually verifiable or rather falsifiable. We can, forty years on, test them against the world as we experience it and see if they hold true.

He said
... consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.
Can anyone claim, in good faith, that marital fidelity has not taken a hammering in the last forty years? Have moral standards, especially in matters of sexual conduct become more strict or less so?

He goes on
Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings — and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation — need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.
That speaks for itself!

But he's not done yet! He points out that
Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.
The whole point about contraception is that it makes a woman sexually available to a man at any time. There is no period that is off limits for sexual intercourse if there are no "consequences" to that act.

(For "consequences" read "children"; if anyone reading this is naive or silly enough to believe that the most intimate physical contact of which adult human beings are capable won't leave a deep emotional and psychological impression, then he or she needs to stay in more. Yes, you read that right, not "get out more" but stay in more. Do some quiet reading and careful thinking. Try starting with Humanae Vitae or if that's a bit steep for starters, try this or this and then perhaps move on this.)

When you add to that the harmful effects of the pill itself (it being the most widespread form of contraception) in terms of increased menstrual bleeding, increased incidence of depression, weight gain, and possible permanent or long-lasting damage to fertility, it begins to show its true colours as a very bad deal for women.

OK, so we can see that Pope Paul is two for two, so far. What about his third prediction?
Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law ... Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.
I cite China and India, and rest my case! (Although as one commentator pointed out, in western democracies the people are the government, and the social pressure on parents of large families not to have any more children is extreme.)

Finally, if you want to read a much better researched and worked out analysis of the Humanae Vitae phenomenon then read Mary Eberstadt at It's the free article from this month's issue and is top class stuff. (So is the rest of FT and their blog isn't bad either.)

The most affecting and moving evocation of the value of Humanae Vitae I've heard though, on this 40th Anniversary, has been from this priest at this parish. You can download his 35 minute homily on HV from that site (about 5 minutes on broadband but maybe 30 minutes on dialup!). It's well thought out, personal without being idiosyncratic and straight from the pastoral heart of a priest who knows what he's supposed to be! Deo gratias!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Of your Charity ...

I received this message by way of the comments box, from the Fitzgibbons. Please continue to remember him and them in your prayers, and don't forget too that handling grief is often more difficult after the initial shock has worn off.

Dear Eamonn,
Thanks for posting a prayer request for our beloved Diarmuid.

We built a website in memory of him where any charitable soul may pledge prayer. The link is

God Bless,
Fitzgibbon Family

Original Post from June.This sad news comes from the Latin Mass community in Limerick. Yours prayers would be greatly appreciated by the Fitzgibbon family.

Dear Friends,

Please pray for the soul of Diarmuid Fitzgibbon who died tragically on Friday. His mother Antoinette attends our Latin Mass in Limerick and sings in our small choir. Some of you might also remember her from Chartres 2 years ago. The family has requested that people say the Divine Mercy for Diarmuid and if possible to try and gain a plenary indulgence for him. As you can imagine the family is devastated and implore your prayers.

Anima ejus et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum, per misericordia Dei, requiescant in pace.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Natural Family Planning

There was recently an explosion of NFP related blogging. Some of it was very interesting and informative, especially for those of us contemplating the rapidly approaching prospect of Marriage. Some of it was pretty unedifying and even rather bitter and spiteful. (I won't link to those posts, simply because they strike me as gratuitous and unhelpful.)

However most of it was interesting and well-intentioned. The one gaping hole, though, was in terms of an appreciation of the purpose of NFP. Specifically, most commentators (admittedly from a rather rigorist perspective) seem to think that NFP is principally concerned with avoiding pregnancy. Thus one blogger opined
I would say that these [serious reasons to use NFP] have to exist before one even begins to prepare or attempt to employ NFP. One has a positive duty to have children if married. In order to do this one need only ‘do what comes naturally’. There is no need to consider the number unless one already faces serious reasons dispensing one from this duty.

This is touchingly naive. As one person explained to us, there is no guarantee that a couple can have a baby any time they like, just by "doing what comes naturally". She related her own experience of assuming that she would have a honeymoon baby; she and her husband had to wait four years for said baby to arrive. I'm also reminded of a friend from the UK who is rather bloodyminded about wanting lots of children, when she marries. (She thinks seven would be a good number. She's not even a Catholic!) She's used to explaining this attitude rather defensively but on one occasion she was reminded rather sharply by the mother of an only child that she should accept gratefully what she was given! This woman had one daughter, and would have liked more children but it wasn't to be.

There are a number of versions of NFP out there, from Billings to Sympto-thermal to NaPRO but what all of them have in common (as far as I can tell) is that they are about planning FOR a family by understanding the process of human fertility. This is emphatically NOT about avoiding pregnancy, as the be-all and end-all but is instead about knowing when you can or cannot conceive. Many couples can conceive simply by doing "what comes naturally" but to suggest that this is an unproblematic automatic process is simply nonsense. Male fertility is to some extent a delicate process which is relatively easily upset. (Useful hint from one NFP source - wear roomy underwear! They told us the same thing in school. Also - which I didn't know - avoid plastic seating. It overheats delicate parts that need to be 2 degrees colder than the body core.)

Female fertility on the other hand is an unbelievably complex process, which ensures that MOST of the time a woman's body is intensely hostile to achieving a pregnancy. NFP thus is not about avoiding pregnancy by some sort of devious, "guilt-free" contraception. It is concerned with being able to conceive when we're ready to do so but above all, in terms of conjugal relations, the fundamental principle is one of consistent openness to life, without exception. It also means that if a couple have difficulty conceiving, they have natural and morally unobjectionable means to increase the likelihood of their doing so.

One wonderfully commonsensical NFP stalwart pointed out that her preferred method was one which helped her to conceive, to avoid conception for a time and to recognise & manage menopause when she reached that stage in her life. The whole mindset was one of awareness of, and co-operation with, a natural process. Thus the blogger who suggested that one ought to have "serious reasons" before "one even begins to prepare or attempt to employ NFP" is a bit like someone saying that one ought to have angina pectoris before one attempts to eat a heart-healthy diet or take exercise! In any area of life, a conscientious Catholic should seek to ensure that his body is healthy and working as God intended it to work. Employing super-rigorous categories on the one hand or succumbing to a quasi-contraceptive mentality on the other are not the way to go about this, I'd suggest. Rather a couple who form their consciences rightly, by close and respectful attention to what the Church teaches especially here and here and indeed here can make responsible decisions about the right use of their fertility in order to grow in love and holiness. Not to mention growing in joyful chaos which is, in my limited experience, the hallmark of the Christian family!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A very worthy cause ...

A very dear friend of my very dear fiancée is going to do volunteer work with a Catholic group in Thailand. The problem is that she has to raise her own finance to get there. So L. decided to put a plug on her blog and now I'm following suit. If you feel like supporting P in her heroic trek to Asia, visit Lowdenclear and hit the paypal donation button. Anything left there will be passed directly on to P. Of course, prayers would help even more!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Matters matrimonial!

Not mine and L's for a change but other peoples! Firstly, of your charity, could you pray for this man (who apparently never updates his blog) and his lovely wife, Pauline. They married yesterday in Newtownards and herself & myself were privileged to be among those present.

I also discovered that an old friend has gotten engaged ... the hard way! I thought the temporary Dublin-Belfast wanderings concomitant on our engagement were tough but he has been favoured with the hand of a lady from Tacoma, Washington!! Well, if he's able to manage this sort of really impressive wedding announcement, I'm sure the transition to life stateside will be a cinch!

Ad multos annos utroque!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Laws & Names ...

I suppose the Romans started it first, creating a law and then naming it for the man who framed it; thus the Lex Canuleia, a law of the Roman Republic named for the tribune Gaius Canuleius etc.

Most "laws" bearing someone's name nowadays are not rules prescribing action, rather they are observations about how nature works or about how people in fact behave. Some are formulated as a joke but prove their worth over time. Thus Parkinson's Law (Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion); if you read the book of the same name, it's obviously meant to be a satire. Then look at the way that many large organisations actually behave, and its accuracy is clearly seen.

There are some other more recent "laws" of this kind that I think deserve to be better known. So If anyone feels like putting them on a blog that someone other than my devoted fiancée and a few other patient friends read, feel free to copy-and-paste!

Zuhlsdorf's Law: That pontifical legislation about Latin will always contain a[t least one] mistranslation into English.

Neuhaus's Law: Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.

Hannan's Law: that no [political] party is Euro-sceptic in office. It's also known as Hannan’s First Law of Politics and is named for Daniel Hannan a Conservative English MEP. (Although he cites it and refers to it on his Daily Torygraph blog, he never actually states explicitly his own formulation of the law.)

Finally O'Hanlon's Law: No Catholic can ever tolerate another Catholic being further to the "right" than he is himself.

It's attributed to Fr David O'Hanlon, sometime curate of Kentstown in the diocese of Meath. It's certainly borne out in my experience; e.g. Indulterers (as one wag nicknamed us) generally dislike the SSPX who in turn fight with the Feeneyites. On the other hand, Opus Dei or the LCs are generally uncomfortable with Trads but are in turn often disliked or resented by diocesan clergy. And so on and so forth ...

Last-ditch appeal!!

If you're in the Dublin-Wicklow area and were thinking of doing the LMSI's walking pilgrimage to Glendalough, please email me ( or Peadar Laighléis ( before tonight. We need a minimum number of confirmed participants to make the thing work logistically, so if you'd like to be in it, please let us know soonest!

Further information on the walk itself can be had from this page.

Friday, May 23, 2008


If you look to the right, you'll see my disclaimer in the sidebar. It points out that I link to other people's blogs but take no responsibility for what they publish. The reverse is also true; if you take issue with what I say, feel free to challenge me by email or by posting a comment or by posting in response on your own blog. (If you choose to comment here, please let me know who you are, i.e. post your email address or blog URL).

PLEASE do not post silly comments on my fiancée's blog about posts here or about comments here. Lowdenclear doesn't run this blog, write the posts or decide what comments get published; I do. Although I love her dearly, and she loves me, we are not interchangeable. So whoever you are in Dublin, who offered her a comment on one of MY posts early this afternoon from an esatclear address, please direct your comments to me at this blog. And while you're at it tell us who we're talking to, please!

PS In your comment at Lowdenclear you referred to a commenter here and his family as good people; that was never an issue. I know that he is a good Catholic and both he and his family are very fine people. That doesn't mean, however, that good people cannot disagree about important things in good faith.

Friday, May 16, 2008

In dubiis libertas ...

I think there are lots of things that good Catholics can disagree about in good faith, unless and until the Magisterium rules definitively otherwise. Having said that, I think that any such disagreement needs to be settled by way of argument, that is a structured process of analysis and reasoning leading to a sound conclusion. Alan has made some interesting comments on my last post below with which I disagree and which I think need some analysis.
I'd prefer to acknowledge,accept and follow, even if it is woolly, an Eternal Rome rather than an Archbishop who attends ( he might be taking part,I am not certain) non-Catholic services celebrating the work of a man who has abandoned the Catholic priesthood in favour of the Church of Ireland.

This presents a false dichotomy. Either an Eternal Rome - which by definition lacks a living authoritative voice with which to reprove or command or an Archbishop who winks at apparent apostasy. In fact, what we have is a choice between an "eternal Rome" and an imperfect all-too-human real Rome, with a real voice which is whether we like it or not the voice of Peter. The concept of an Eternal Rome is alluring but ultimately illusory in that it does not have the divine mandate or guarantees that the (actual, humanly fallible and very often grubby) See of Rome does. Frankly one can accept and be subject to the actual Holy Father we've got even as one criticises one's local ordinary for imprudent actions.
I have problems with a Bendict XVI who praises the "healthy secularity of the state"

I think Pope Benedict has exactly the right idea, in that he praises a healthy secularity. This would be a great thing if it defended the right not simply of individual believers but also of the Church as a body to exist and interact in a corporate way in various societies. Put bluntly, compared to many theocratic societies we Christians never have had a problem with the Church and the State having their separate spheres. Our Lord mandated it and St Thomas (whom I tend to follow) explains it pretty clearly in his Treatise on Law (Summa Theologiae IaIIae 90-97) but especially in 95, art. 4, corp art.
and who wrote [23rd Nov.2006]"It is our fervent hope that the Anglican communion will remain grounded in the gospels and the apostolic tradition which form our common patrimony". No need for conversion, are Anglican faith & morals of the Apostolic tradition ?

I think the Holy Father is simply trying to make the best of a bad situation. He would rather the Anglicans held on the partial share they have in our common patrimony than throw it all overboard. (NB Insofar as they use the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed and mean it, there is some meaningful common ground.)
I know that there are problems with SSPX & their regularity, but I still believe that I share communion of belief with them and the pre-Vatican II Popes, priests and bishops, which is more important than canonical legality, more than many of the official hierarchy of the Catholic church. All the same I am glad that in your comment you recognise the "SSPX leaning" as Catholics !

Again, a false dichotomy is advanced, or perhaps more than one. "Canonical legality" is not the supreme value in the Church certainly but neither is it as small a point as Alan seems to suggest here. A priest who lacks jurisdiction cannot validly absolve! This isn't a trivial legalistic quibble but a serious spiritual problem. As for the suggestion of a communion of belief with Pre as opposed to Post Vatican II Popes and bishops, it's simply a chimera. The Church believes now what she always has. The hermeneutic of rupture, as some have called it, is a blind alley whether it's of a liberal-modernist variety or of a more traditionalist stripe. It's also important to note that I recognise SSPX sympathisers as Catholics because the Holy See does! My judgment as an individual Catholic is of no particular weight; the judgment of the Church is what counts!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

We all survived again!!

St Patrick's Chapter walked, limped and was baked on its merry way to Chartres again this year. Led by yours truly (well actually led by a triumvirate and a unimulierate - i.e. 3 men and one woman) the 35 odd pilgrims (some of them very odd) battled heat, dust, blisters and aches-and-pains to cover 100 kms in 2.5 days. Most of them even managed to stay awake for the Dominican Rite High Mass at the end of it all.

The Irish Chapter started its spiritual journey again this year in the Collège des Irlandais with Mass celebrated (in the EF needless to say) by our Chaplain, Fr Michael Cahill. Unfortunately the first test of the pilgrims forbearance, longanimity and other such virtues was the delayed flight which meant that half of us missed it!

However, we had at least a very pleasant dinner and a few hours of sleep in a hot and sticky Paris. Saturday dawned fine and bright, and the Chapter assembled in good order for the March away from the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Except for the fact that I forgot to load the batteries into the loud-hailer. (Or bullhorn or whatever you want to call it.) Of course we had batteries - they were just in my baggage which was on a completely inaccessible truck. Nothing daunted, M. MacGuill de Clichy set off on a municipal bicycle (I kid you not) and found fresh batteries which with some coaxing got the chapter meditations and rosaries started via loudspeaker.

We had a Missa Cantata by a lake in Verrieres (where it must have been 25 degrees centigrade at least) and was certainly the hottest days walk that I could remember for 7 or 8 years. Anyway I made it as far as the last rest-stop where some kind friends (senior pilgrims from the UK who drive most and walk part of the route) gave me a lift to the bivouac.

Sunday was more of the same weather-wise, hot and sunny. Mass was in a forest this time, which was rather nicer in terms of the shade offered; the afternoon walk was even a little harder than Saturday's but we were all a bit more used to it by then. Sunday evening we had the long walk into the Bivouac at Gas which feels like it will never end until it suddenly does! We (not just the Irish but our Celtic cousins the Bretons with whom we march) got the comfy end of the campsite too; lots of weeds underneath us and very few rocks! There was Benediction and Adoration too but many of the Irish Group were just too tired to do anything more than eat and then sleep.

Pentecost Monday gave yet more brilliant sunshine, and my equally brilliant chapter kept up a round of mediations, prayers (in four languages but mea culpa no Dutch this year) and songs (including this one) that took us all the way to Chartres Cathedral itself. The High Mass was celebrated in the Dominican Rite! Msgr Pansard, the bishop of Chartres, was present and gave the final blessing; in fact he seemed at least gruntled but perhaps even pleased to be there.

Here he is giving his blessing in the final procession.

Anyway suffice it to say that we had a very good time, and even a little fun along the way. The Pilgrimage ended with Chez Nous, Soyez Reine echoing in a resounding chorus around the Cathedral and indeed on the parvis.

Our pilgrimage finished on Tuesday morning at 9.00 am with Mass in Notre Dame de Sous Terre, the very oldest part of the Cathedral, down in the Crypt. Of course, as the walking and praying (the more penitential aspects of the trip) were now over we feasted a little. Dinner on Monday night was good but if you're ever in Chartres lunch at the Café Serpente is a must. Our only disappointment this year: there was no confit de canard on the menu. Oh well...

All told it was exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure. Three days of prayer (some of it for the grace to survive the next hour or even the next few steps), penance (blisters, sore feet, aches & pains) and grace (we all got through it and are all still friends!) are over now until next year. (If you haven't yet tried Chartres but would like a little taster try one of these and see if you like the experience. If you do, then drop us a line and come on board next year!)

PS I came across a post on this blog which mentioned the possibility of an Irish Chapter going to Chartres next year! Then I realised that the poster Guillaume was referring to our Semi-Separated Brethern of the Pelerinage de Tradition. It goes from Chartres to Paris and gave rise to the comment by the editor of the Brandsma Review that it's a bit like the late T. A. P. Milligan's I'm Walking Backwards for Christmas! It includes the immortal lines
I've tried walking sideways,
And walking to the front,
But people just look at me,
And say it's a publicity stunt.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Apparently, I'm the 1000th!!!

My favourite Lady tells me (and incidentally the rest of the world) that I'm the 1,000th visitor to the Lowdenclear blog. The prize for this is (happily for me) lifelong matrimony!!

So by way of a compliment to my intended this is what she gets for putting up with me for a lifetime.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

John Harris OP, God bless him!

Anyone who knows the Irish Dominican Province knows Fr John OP. Come to that anyone who has had even peripheral contact with that fine bunch Youth 2000, will have seen or heard him. (Actually when he is at his cheerful booming best, you'd hear him from about three miles away!) Anyway courtesy of Miss Dawn Eden here are the Friars of the Dominican House of Studies, Washington DC putting up a welcoming banner for the Holy Father. And the encouragement from the left hand side is indeed in the mellifluous Munster tones of Fr John!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Books but not as we know them ...

For a real book lover, there is no substitute for having a solid, well-bound and long-lasting volume in your hand. So while Perseus' version of Lewis & Short is welcome, what is really indispensable is an actual print copy. (Mine came at the miniscule price of IR£20 in the Blackrock Market in 1992!)

However, it's not always possible to get every book you want, or even to afford the ones you want most. Here's where the Internet Archive comes into play, more specifically their Text Archive. They will give you flip books i.e. readable facsimile images of the book concerned which you can look at online. Or you can get full colour PDFs of many texts.

The two books I've wanted for some time but could never find were the Stowe Missal in the Bradshaw Society edition and the original critical edition of A. M. S. Boethius' Opuscula Sacra by Rudolf Peiper. (Leipzig: Teubner Verlag, 1871)

In both cases, I still don't have them and may not for many years. What I do have are colour PDFs so that I can read the texts I need to, and get the research done! It's not perfect but it's a whole lot better than no text at all. Now if only someone would put Lewis & Short up there; that way I could carry a copy around in my laptop!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Holy Father in flying form, in two languages!

The Holy Father is about to make an Apostolic Visit to the USA and he prepared the above deeply spiritual message in advance of the trip. As with anything else he says we can expect that this will be misunderstood by many journalists with little knowledge of, and even less interest in, his teaching. However, an excellent American organisation the Pew Forum held a briefing for journalists so that they could put il Papa's visit in context. They had two speakers, John Allen of the infamous National Catholic Distorter (who is despite that and his execrable biography of the Cardinal Ratzinger, a fair-minded and decent commenter) and George Weigel a solidly orthodox Catholic, if a bit too neo-Conservative for my liking.

The whole transcript of the discussion, including questions and answers afterwards can be found here; particularly interesting though is one quote from Allen, showing the Pope's sharp even slightly barbed sense of humour.

There is a custom in the Vatican press corps that when one of us publishes a book about the pope, we typically inscribe a copy to him and then give it either to his private secretary or to his spokes[man]. [...] But when the Holy Father was elected, I published one of these insta-books about the conclave and the new pope. And I dutifully inscribed it to the pope, and I gave it to his spokes[man Joaquin Navarro-Valls] ... this was in June. In August, I got a call on my cell phone from Navarro-Valls [who] said, look John, I want you to know that I’m on vacation with the Holy Father, and the pope came down to breakfast this morning with your book in his hands... So Navarro says to me, ... the pope has a message for you ... would you please thank Herr Allen for having written this book, particularly the last part about the future of my pontificate because it has saved me the trouble of thinking about it for myself.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

If you answer to Lowdenclear ...

... then you'd probably better not read this!

My long suffering fiancée puts up with my cooking, sense of humour and funny moods (which she even says aren't grumpy) but some of my first-aid related stories she can do without. Fair enough; if you're her, then, maybe darling, you might prefer to skip this short entry. Someone suggested that chest-compression only CPR (in suspected cardiac arrest patients i.e. neither paediatric nor drowning) might be of more benefit than mouth to mouth and compressions. So far so good, especially as I wouldn't do mouth-to-mouth if you paid me! (Mouth to mask, that's a different, no vomitus in my oral cavity sort of game!!)

However, the American author of the above-linked article suggests aiming your compressions between the patient's nipples. That's just silly. The sternum or breastbone is a fixed point, running from a hollow at the top of the stomach up to a hollow at the bottom of the neck. But just you try to aim "between the nipples" of a 55 year old woman carrying a few extra pounds. Then try it when you've cut her clothing away to facilitate placing AED pads. (Remember ILCOR 2005 says 1 shock then CPR for 5 cycles or 2 minutes, then another shock.) You'd be trying chest compressions somewhere around her waist! Then try it on an obese 75 year-old male with man-breasts!

Finally if you haven't had any training in CPR don't expect to able to do anything at all - no training tends to mean lots of fear, some panic and a total freeze. If, on the other hand, you want to know what to do and how to do it in such a situation, follow the link in my sidebar!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A last word, for now anyway.

Angelo left a comment on this post below referring to the post on his own blog in Italian about Thomas Kelly. I tidied up the Google language tools "translation" and re-publish it here by way of a last word on Thomas's untimely death. It's not that I won't talk about it again but I won't blog about it for a while. It's still a bit too weird and objectionable to make sense of. (To all those who have prayed for Thomas and for his grieving family go raibh míle maith agaibh - a hundred thousand thanks, and please keep up the good work.)

Thomas A. F. Kelly

I have participated in these days, for the first time, in two celebrations in the Tridentine rite after the sudden disappearance of Tom Kelly. Kelly was professor of philosophy and head of the department of philosophy at Maynooth, and died in the night between Wednesday and Thursday at the age of 51 years.

I had met Tom Kelly in 2005, when he was invited to speak of Saint Anselm of Aosta for the association Atlantis. I went to meet him at Maynooth, and we spent a couple of hours together and I visited the National University of Ireland [Maynooth] and the Pontifical University. (The department of philosophy in Maynooth belongs to both institutions.)

I remember him as a kind person, a brilliant mind, full of interest.

He studied first at UCD and in Freiburg [Schweiz] and returned to UCD as assistant to Teresa Iglesias, my supervisor. He moved to Maynooth, where for twenty years he has trained generations of students, many of whom were seminarians. (Here some remember him.)

As Eamonn Gaines said on his blog ... Tom Kelly was President of the Irish Philosophical Society and founded three academic journals. He was a big fan of St. Thomas Aquinas and at this time I read about the conference programme that he was arranging for the month of April, dedicated to analytical Thomism. The sudden disappearance of Tom Kelly is a great loss for philosophy in Ireland, particularly Christian philosophy.

Tom attended the Tridentine rite parish, which has recently established, and the funeral today has been particularly touching. During my visit to Maynooth, Tom showed me the little cemetery that is located inside the campus, a cemetery which is almost entirely occupied by university professors and students. Now his mortal body rests among them, pending the Resurrection.

The Spanish comment on the previous post ...

Professor Martinez very kindly left a comment in Spanish which Kevin O'Reilly equally kindly translated. For those who would like to know what it said:
I was upset on learning of the death of Prof. Kelly. In
October he invited me to Maynooth and treated me to a
generous helping of warm Irish hospitality. I attended
the traditional Mass with him, his wife, Marian, and my
wife, on the Sunday of Christ the King. He was moved by
the verses of St John of the Cross that I recited to
him: 'Where have you hidden Yourself, my Beloved, and
left me groaning? Like the deer you fled, leaving me
wounded. I went forth after you calling out aloud but
you had gone.' Now he has met the Beloved, Jesus
Christ. May he rest in peace. R.I.P.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thomas Augustine Francis Kelly RIP

UPDATE: Thomas's remains will be removed to St Kevin's Church, Harrington St, Dublin 8 at 4.00pm tomorrow Saturday, February 23rd. A Solemn High Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite will take place there on Monday next, the 25th of February at 11.00am followed by interment in the College Cemetery at Maynooth.

For those of us who knew and loved him Thomas Augustine Francis Kelly was a man whom we could never imagine with the letters RIP after his name. He had BA, MA, MPhil and the rest but the idea of this larger than life character ever being finally and irrevocably gone was simply ridiculous. Until today, when all that changed. We still don't know what happened exactly but he was found this morning at or near the Royal Canal in Maynooth. It seems that there was some sort of accident which caused him to fall in. Unfortunately falling into a canal is easily done and climbing out again is well-nigh impossible.

Thomas (I could never call him "Tom" still less "Tommy") was a man of immense intelligence and talent. He spoke four languages fluently, had a working knowledge of at least two others, and an acute reading knowledge of three others. (The latter being Ancient Greek, Latin and formal logic, since you asked.) He wrote two books and edited at least three. He founded at least three refereed academic journals and after 17 years of coaxing and cajoling seminarians in Philosophy, crossed the bridge to the National University of Ireland side of the Maynooth Campus; after some years there he finally arrived where we all knew he belonged. In the Chair of Philosophy, as Professor Thomas Kelly.

He wasn't however in any way limited to just academic achievement. He was also an accomplished painter and had exhibited in various places down the years. (It provided the cover art for his tribute to William Desmond of K U Leuven and late of Cork.) He wrote a novel once - which he never published despite my assiduous nagging encouragement. He sang with successively the Schweizer Romanos-Chor (Eastern Church music, in Switzerland no less), the Palestrina Choir and the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir.

Yet he wore all this artistic achievement lightly. He hadn't just a wide-ranging and powerful intellect but what was more important a warm and generous heart. He was well known for his capacity for making and keeping friends; he was loyal and generous to a fault. Yet a really full and complete happiness eluded him until he met his wife, Marian O'Donnell. Whatever the sadness we all feel at his death, it is as nothing to the grief she must feel. So of your charity, please pray for the peace and happy repose of the soul of Thomas Augustine Francis Kelly, and for his wife and his widowed mother that they will be comforted.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Weddings and such ...

Though we're still in January (if only just), October isn't that far away. So do have a look at our wedding website to see how the plans are coming along. The Wedding in question is hers and mine, needless to say. If, by the time you read this, you've gotten an invitation you'll find everything you need to know about directions, times and dates on it. If you're not coming on the day but just want to know all about it, this is the place for that too!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tagged again, by my lovely stalker ...

I was tagged by Herself so I really have no choice ...

No. My mother says that she simply knew I was to be an Éamonn (complete with the unique spelling; it's usually one n and no fada or acute accent over the E) and so I am!

Just before we walked my father's remains from Massey Brothers to St Audoen's for the funeral.

Yes, most of the time.

Herta low fat salami.

No, but ask me again after I get married next October.

Maybe but only intermittently.

Lots, and even too much on occasion.


No. A lot of risk, a great thrill I'm sure but no skill involved. Unlike, say, abseiling!

Meusli but no added sugar or salt.

Yes, always. (They wouldn't come off otherwise!)

Physically? No. In terms of character? Yes, on occasion but only when there is something or someone more important than me at stake.

Plain vanilla, when it really tastes of vanilla.

Their eyes.

Neither, I'm a man.

A tendency to self-pity.

Silly question really.

Trousers? Green. Blue slippers.

Beef Stew and spuds.

My fiancée breathing 125 miles away! (Ain't Skype wonderful?)

Royal Blue.

Coffee beans, freshly ground or anything with garlic in it!

Phil Byrne (she's a colleague who is also a cousin of mine).

Rugby, on the rare occasion when Ireland is winning.

Grey but my fiancée says my beard has three (or is it four) colours in it!


No, glasses.

Mammy Gaines's Sunday dinner (Roast chicken, mushy peas, stuffing, roast potatoes and gravy!). If I have to cook it myself? Either my own homemade pizza or Éamonn's Idiot-Proof Chicken Surprise (TM). (Apply to Lowdenclear for a considered judgment about whether they're any good.)


Charade. Although this lady always tops my list, Audrey Hepburn would come a respectable second!

Grey and white stripes.

Both, each at the proper time.

Depends whom I am to hug or kiss.


The Aryan Christ and The Reform of the Roman Liturgy and The Heresy of Formlessness.

A Dell logo.


The Guild of Choristers of St. Cecelia singing the Vidi Aquam for the Sundays after Easter.

The Beatles

San Diego, California

I don't know. Define "special".

Dún Laoghaire, near Dublin, Ireland.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dan Brown, it's not!

If you like Biblical studies, religious intrigue, serious intellectual puzzles, exotic languages (living and on-life-support) and all round entertainment, then get thee to Fr Renzo di Lorenzo's wonderfully puzzling new blog-cum-novel. Thus far it seems to promise all the weirdness and wonder that Dan Brown does. The difference is that Fr Renzo delivers. (Or as My Lady put it, like Dan Brown "only good"!)

Besides which, Fr Z approves. What more could you want ...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tridentinist? What's that when it's at home?

"The majority of the new lay movements are not Tridentinist and they are where many of the young are to be found."

I'm not even sure what a "Tridentinist" is when it's at home. I'm a Catholic who prefers the traditional form of the Roman Liturgy. I have never been to Tridentinum (Trent to you and me) and have very little interest in going. There is also this worrying trend of juventophilia, an obsession with pleasing or attracting the young. If you have a very popular, youth based ecclesial movement, it doesn't necessarily mean very much. It could be like the "Gospel Mass" (i.e. Mass with Black American style choral music) that is celebrated in a certain Dublin Church; it attracts the crowds but has had the Gospel liturgically proclaimed by a lay woman! Yes, they are going to Mass but are they being edified, built up in their practice of the Faith?

In any case, it is a mistake to see liturgically traditional and non-traditional Catholics as mutually exclusive categories. For example, Youth 2000 is a vibrant organisation which is very successful in youth evangelisation here in Ireland. I have trad friends who are members of Y2K prayer groups; many Y2K members with a more Charismatic background are finding the traditional liturgy more and more attractive. Y2K also has a contemplative side with a great focus on Eucharistic adoration. As a card-carrying trad, I find this to be a very good thing. In the end, however, people will go where they can pray best; this is one of the greatest gifts that the Holy Father has given in Summorum Pontificum. We no longer have to be card-carrying "Tridentinists" or anything else to derive full benefit from Holy Church's liturgical patrimony. Benedict XV of happy memory had the right idea:
It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as "profane novelties of words" out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: "This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved" (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim "Christian is my name and Catholic my surname," only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.

The Von Tone-Deaf Family Singers present ...

The Definitive Answer to every busybody who thinks someone else's generously sized family is their problem.

The parents of this wonderful family finally got tired of all the silly and disrespectful comments they were getting from total strangers about having seven children; especially true for the Mom. (My own mother tells me that she experienced the same nonsense when we - all 7 of us - were small.)

I've embedded it here but it's even more fun if you look at it here because the seventh commenter down turns out to be the one and only Aussie Mum of 7!

Anyway, this is by way of a thank you to my own parents, and as a friend of mine - who is childless - commented, think of all the people like him whose pensions will be paid by the earnings of all those grown-up kids from big families!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Tradition on the move ...

The following interesting titbit was emailed to me by a friend. It refers to the ubiquitous Red Book produced by the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei. It was once referred to, by the late Michael Davies, as the most famous little red book after Chairman Mao's. He added that this one had done a lot more good than Mao's ever had!

You all may have seen this, but I noted the following line in the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei newsletter:

“…before July 7, 2007, the Coalition shipped 1,000 Latin English Booklet missals each month. Since July 7 we have shipped 1,000 booklets every week. In May, we had reprinted 20,000 booklet missals, and ordered another 20,000 in October.”

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

An urgent request.

The good people at Family and Life have this urgent prayer request in their latest bulletin.
Urgent Prayer Request from Bryan, TX, USA

The following letter came from one of our readers: “Hello to everyone, hope your doing well. I have a personal favour to ask of you. Ivory is 7 years old and this week she was riding her go cart without a helmet, and lost control landing her under a neighbours double wide that didn't have any skirting. She was stopped by the floor and support beam by her neck. She slashed her neck from her ear to her larynx, cutting her thyroid, her juggler was torn slightly causing the blood to drain into her lungs, which then collapsed, she broke her neck, & broke her back. She was air lifted to Musc, she has had one operation on her lower back and they found her spinal cord to be totally cut. They have to wait for 2 weeks to operate on her larynx, thyroid and neck. Not knowing until then if her spinal cord is torn at the neck...Which will tell to what extent she will be paralyzed. This little girl is only seven years old and has her whole life to live. I ask you to lift her up to God in payer. And if you wouldn't mind adding her to your Church prayer chain, we all know what God can do when we only have Faith and come together in unity. Thank you so much for your time and most importantly... your prayers.”

Please pray for her.