Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ten Weeks in Africa: review

The stories about Oxfam and Unicef stimulate me to repost this, from October 2012. The book I'm talking about is more prescient than I realised. Buy the book here.

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Ten Weeks in Africa by JM Shaw (my brother) has been reviewed by Charles Moore. Read the review here.

The novel has turned out to extremely topical, with a series of stories appearing about how aid is misspent. Here's Charles Moore:

But the point to understand about international development, at least as it is usually conducted between modern states, is that it cannot achieve its intended results. Just now, this paper’s Sunday sister has been running some splendid stories of aid money wasted on tourist projects and overpaid consultants; much of it is commandeered by the European Union for unworthy causes. It is good to expose such things. But this novel looks at the question even more radically. 

People often say that if only more were done to “get rid of corruption” then aid would be wonderful. What they miss is that aid is the greatest stimulant to corruption offered by rich countries to poor ones. It is an uncovenanted, and often unaudited, blessing for those who already have power, and therefore — because the recipient countries are kleptocracies — a curse for the people they rule. 

The point is that aid, rather like diamonds or oil wealth, isn't just spoilt by corruption, it creates and sustains corruption. It also creates and sustains famine and war. Which isn't to say that it can and does do good. But there isn't a sharp contrast between 'good' aid and 'bad' aid: aid does bad, sometimes, because it does good: because people benefit from it, say in a refugee camp, people can leave their homes to go it. Again, it can do good, sometimes, because it is addressing a bad situation which it has created: having created a dependency, yes indeed the people really do need it to survive.






As I read the book I wondered about how people in these desperate situations can really be helped, and how the saints of the past, and present, in the Church, have gone about it. How did St Francis, or the Jesuits in the 17th Century, or Mother Theresa, do it? Part of the answer is the solidarity with the poor which they exemplified. They didn't swank about in Toyota Landcruisers and live in air-conditioned hotels, and throw handfuls of bank-notes to the beggars - or the equivalent. They became poor themselves to help the poor. Instead of representing an opportunity for graft, kidnapping, theft, corruption, and fraud, by coming into a situation with resources beyond the dreams of anyone they met, they addressed the poor personally, by service. They came to understand their needs, and yes of course they took money from donors and spent it on useful things like orphanages, but that was not the whole of what they were about, and when they did it they did it on the basis of a real knowledge of the people they were helping, and how they could be helped. And they didn't leave after three months to move on to another prestigious project, leaving everything they had done to be destroyed. If necessary they stayed with their adopted people and faced death from wars and persecutors. This is something, of course, which consecrated religious can do more easily than married people with children to think about.

Oh yes the aid workers the West sends out are very generous with their time and effort, and they really care about the people they want to help. But if they fail it is partly because they are giving their time, but not themselves.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Prayers for Persecuted Christians

The Arabic letter 'Nun', for Nazarene, is being painted
on Christian homes in Mosul, to mark them out.
I posted this in July 2014 for the Christians of the Middle East. Today I repost it with the thought particularly of the Catholics of China.

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At this moment of disaster for the Christians of Mosul, and of the Middle East in general, we should remember to keep them in our prayers, and have Masses said for them.

There are several Votive Masses and Commemorations in the 1962 Missal for suitable intentions ('For the Church', 'Against Persecutors', 'For Peace' and the like). The Collect of one of them was enriched with an indulgence in 1934, for use as a prayer on its own. The indulgence has gone but we can still say the prayer.

Graciously hear the prayers of Thy Church, we beseech Thee, O Lord: that her enemies and all heresies be brought to nought, and that she may serve Thee in perfect security and freedom. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ecclesiae tuae, quaesumus, Domine, preces placatus admitte: ut, destructis adversitatibus er erroribus universis, secura tibi serviat libertate. Per Christum Dominium nostrum. Amen.

(Translation from the Raccolta, the official handbook of indulgenced prayers.)

The Raccolta also includes this short prayer, taken from the Roman Ritual:

That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bring low the enemies of holy Church, we beseech Thee to hear us.

Ut inimicos sanctae Ecclesiae humiliare digneris, te rogamus, audi nos.

A longer prayer, which isn't in my edition of the Raccolta but which was also granted an indulgence in 1934, was issued as a Prayer Card by the Catholic Truth Society with an imprimatur from Cardinal Godfrey in 1962.

Almighty, everlasting God, look with compassion on all those who suffer persecution for justice’ sake.
     Grant them grace to carry their cross with patience in the name of Thy beloved Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
     Let the chalice pass from them is such by Thy holy Will: yet, in all things, may Thy Will be done.
     Grant to those who persecute, light to see the truth, and the grace of mercy and forgiveness, for they know not what they do.
     Mary, Mother of Jesus, Comfort of the Afflicted, help thy children in their time of bitter trial.

O Lord our God, by the sign of Thy holy cross deliver us from our enemies.


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Sunday, February 11, 2018

The sexual revolution devours the young

Between 2012 and 2015, 600 rapes were recorded in UK schools. “Why didn’t you stop when she was crying?” a teacher asked a 14-year-old perpetrator. “It’s normal for girls to cry during sex,” he replied.

Blanche Girouard, basing herself partly on a report published last September in a pithy piece in Standpoint magazine on the sexualised nightmare many schools have become. Don't click on the links if you are of a sensitive disposition.

Girouard argues that we need to see the difference between normal flirtation and violent sexual assault, and that children need to be educated in this difference also. It doesn't sound much to ask, but the 'me too' phenomenon, and the heavy-handed policing of sexism in schools, seems determined to blur the distinction. It is true that flirtation coming from a person with great power over the other party, as has been the case with Weinstein and others, is a serious matter, but it is still different from a violent sexual assault. And the 'me too' hashtag has not been limited to such cases.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Spring 2018 Mass of Ages is here!

Mass of Ages - Spring 2018 Edition

Mass of Ages is the quarterly magazine of the Latin Mass Society. It contains reports on our many activities across the country, national and international news of Traditional Catholic events, feature articles on different aspects of traditional Faith and culture, and opinions and views on developments in the Catholic Church.
The spring 2018 edition is now available. In this issue: • Caroline Shaw reports on the ICKSP Pilgrimage to Fatima led by Cardinal Burke • Fr Christopher Basden remembers the late Fr Michael Clifton • Canon Martin Edwards reports on a traditional pilgrimage to the Holy Land • Alan Frost writes on the history of settings of the Stabat Mater • Damian Barker reports on the Young Catholic Adults retreat at Douai Abbey • Canon Amaury Montjean ICKSP welcomes the Sisters to Preston • The Catholic Medical Association’s Committee for the New Evangelization introduce their forthcoming Conference at Tyburn Convent
“It was a splendid pilgrimage, a time for us all to strengthen our devotion to Our Lady, to assist at beautiful Masses, to pray alongside Cardinal Burke and the Institute, to meet faithful Catholics from around the World, and to renew our trust that in the end, Our Lady’s Immaculate heart will, indeed, triumph.” writes Caroline Shaw on the international gathering of Catholics who joined the Institute of Christ the King’s pilgrimage to Fatima, led by His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke.

Masses in Hethe cancelled

With immediate effect the Traditional Mass at 12 noon in Holy Trinity, Hethe, has been cancelled, and until further notice.

If the situation changes I will post again on this blog.

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Thursday, February 08, 2018

A question for Freemasons

It seems the Chief Executive of the Grand Lodge is complaining about Masons being discriminated against, and wants to have a public campaign to answer people's questions.

However he wouldn't show the BBC the secret handshake, shucks. No doubt there are thousands of YouTube videos which will.

About them being misunderstood and disliked, I can understand what he means. Misunderstood, because they swear ridiculous oaths (only marginally less ridiculous without the blood-curdling threats) not to reveal what any interested person can find out from any number of books, about Masonic rituals and their symbolic meanings.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

More on Men and Women at Mass: the Hebrides

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A Traditional Requiem Mass in the chapel of St Benet's Hall,
Oxford, in 2015. On the right the small statue is a scale model
of 'Our Lady of Isles', a huge statue constructed on Catholic
South Uist in the Hebrides in 1958. The model is I believe
a working model made by the artist, Hew Lorimer.
I've been reading about the Church in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Here is something worth sharing. Fr Allan MacDonald, Parish Priest in the Scottish Hebrides in the late 19th century, was a Gaelic speaker and a great collector of folklore. I quote John Watts, the historian, referring to Fr MacDonald's notebooks (which have been postumously published, in part):

Though the island people as a whole were devout, he found that it was the men rather than the women who ‘practised’. He reckoned that throughout Uist and Barra men outnumbered women at Mass by as much as five to one. He believed that this situation had developed over many generations, in a society in which the women were often left at home on Sundays to tend the cattle and look after the house, and as a result were not only deprived of the sacraments but of any deep instruction in their religion.

John Watts, A Record of Generous People: A History of the Catholic Church in Argyll and the Isles (2013) p156

The longer term background of this observation, if (as seems plausible) the situation in Fr MacDonald’s time did reflect many generations’ practice, is the dependence of these communities on itinerant priests visiting them, sometimes very infrequently, and celebrating Mass on ‘Mass rocks’ and in private houses: not because of an active persecution, for the most part, but simply because of the acute shortage of priests and funds. The parochial system was still only in embryonic form in Fr MacDonald’s time.