Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where is the barrier, Mr Mickens?

Catching up on the weekend press I see that Robert 'Bobbie' Mickens, the Tablet Rome Correspondant who wept when Pope Benedict was elected, was at World Youth Day - or so he says. He reports on the confrontation between WYD 'kids' and the anti-clerical protesters. ('Kids'? The age range is 18-35, but anyone under 50 probably seems a child to the typical Tablet reader.) After an initial exchange of slogans between the two groups, he writes, 'Police ordered the Catholic kids to keep moving and most did. But some of the more zealous decided to continue giving 'witness'. The protesters responded with insults as the kids continued their chants. A small group even knelt down and began praying the Rosary. ... The Catholic youngsters obviously felt that they were being heroic in defending their faith, albeit from behind a barrier.'

I quote this spiteful description because of the identifiable falsehood: as we've all seen from the photos, there was no barrier. Either Mickens was making it up, or (more likely) he was relying on a garbled second hand version. What is clear, however, is that he didn't bother talking to any of the 'kids' involved or looking at the pictures on the Internet, which went up within hours of the events they captured.
Where is the barrier, Mr Mickens?

What a terrible thing photography and the Internet are for liberal fantasists like Robert Mickens. We don't have to take their word for anything any more.

There should be a short article on this confrontation in the next Mass of Ages giving the story from the horses' mouth - from the young chap in the middle of the photo.

LMS Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham: photo essay

The last minute preparations included the completion of a new banner by the ladies of the Oxford branch of the Guild of St Clare. (More on the Guild blog.)

Sung Mass in the Catholic parish church in Ely, St Ethelreda's, early in the morning on Friday. Fr Shyrane, the parish priest, is extraordinarily welcoming to the many pilgrims who pass through. We had our dinner on Thursday night and breakfast after Mass in the Presbytery, and most of the ladies slept on the floor. The men were in tents in a camp site outside Ely.

After Mass Fr Bede Rowe, our chaplain, blessed the banner, and gave the blessing used at the Christus Rex pilgrimage in Australia, of the pilgrims' 'staves and scrips' (our sticks and daysacs) and of the pilgrims themselves.

The banner has its first outing, on the way from St Ethelreda's to Ely Cathedral.

Ely Cathedral, a medieval masterpiece. We prayed there for the healing of schism.

Shortly after leaving Ely it began to rain intermittently, including some quite heavy rain. The banner is being carried by Br Julian of the Friars of the Immaculate, based at their community in Stoke on Trent. Also with us from that community was Br Pietro, an excellent singer, an Italian who has been in England only a month. We were very privileged to have them with us.

Dinner in a school where we stayed Friday night. Paul Waddington and Lucy Shaw were in charge of providing the food; we did very well. In the school we were all able to sleep under cover, in various rooms and corridors.

After a short walk we had a Sung Mass in the chapel at Oxburgh Hall, at 9am. We were joined by a number of local LMS supporters.

Walking on from Oxburgh, after a cup of tea very kindly supplied by the Bedingfelds, and a look at the very interesting priest-hole - I'll blog about that separately. It was much brighter, and despite thunder and lightning at one point the rain was limited to showers, with a couple of impressive rainbows during the day.

At a pre-Reformation Priory we said prayers for the dead.

Saturday night we were in a village hall, where some very kind local ladies prepared a meal for us. The men were again in tents outside, about a dozen tents, mostly one-man 'pop up' tents, with the ladies on the floor in the hall. Before bed we venerated a relic of the True Cross, which one of the pilgrims had brought with him.

Sunday morning, a fairly short walk to Walsingham.

Arrival at the Slipper Chapel, the Catholic shrine, part of the medieval shrine complex: it is where pilgrims left their shoes for the Holy Mile to the Holy House in Walsingham itself.

Sung Mass in the modern Reconciliation Chapel.

Our numbers now include not only the walking pilgrims and our various support drivers but a coach-load from London, many other LMS supporters from around the country and a number of young people taking part in the Youth 2000 weekend taking place. Y2000 is such a big event that they have their services in vast tents in the field opposite the Slipper Chapel, so it didn't prevent us from booking the Reconciliation Chapel for Mass at 2pm.

We processed from the Reconciliation Chapel to the site of the Holy House in the grounds of the medieval Abbey. Here we sang the Te Deum and had a final blessing from Fr Bede.

The site of the Holy House.

An impromtu survivors' photo.

The full set of photos.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Walsingham photos: uploading now

I've been processing the photos taken with my proper cameras and they are uploading now; I'll post about the Pilgrimage tomorrow, but you can see the photos here.

Mass in the Parish Church of St Ethelreda in Ely, the in the early morning of the first day of the pilgrimage.

Walsingham: Conclusion

After a long morning's walk we made it to the Slipper Chapel, the Catholic shrine, in good time at 12.30. We had prayers outside the tiny historic chapel, where medieval pilgrims left their shoes to walk the Holy Mile to the Holy House in Walsingham. We were able to visit the chapel individually and prepare for Mass.

Fr Rowe celebrated a Missa Cantata for us at 2pm, with the Asperges, a Votive Mass of Our Lady since it it a recognised shrine. This was in the large, modern 'Chapel of Reconcilation', and was extremely well attended. In addition to our thirty foot pilgrims and about a dozen 'camp followers', there was a coachful from London, others from around the country and visitors from the 'Youth 2000' event taking place over the weekend.

After Mass we processed to the site of the Holy House and sang the Te Deum with 130 people.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Walsingham Day 3

Yesterday continued with showers, but with a lot of warm sunshine as well. We stopped to pray for the dead in the ruins of a pre-reformation Priory: we sang the Dies Irae and De Profundis, and Fr Rowe led us with prayers.

It was a long afternoon's walk - after a long morning's walk! We persevered with almost continuous singing, which is the key to keeping up morale, though my voice is suffering a bit this morning.

We arrived at last at Harpley Village Hall, and after a meal prepared by some very kind local ladies we visited the Crown pub and had a very jolly evening.

As one of our English Catholic poets (Dryden) put it

Drinking is a soldier's pleasure
Rich the treasure
Sweet the pleasure
Sweet is pleasure after pain.

We are now well on our way on our last leg to Walsingham, having a break in East Rudham, whose village sign has a picture of pilgrims making their way to Walsingham.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Walsingham Day 2: lunch

We have had a beautiful Sung Mass in the private chapel of the Bedingfeld family at Oxburgh Hall, and after a cup of tea and a look at their priest hole (hidden under the loo ensuite to the 'Kings Bedroom) we have had a long walk to get to Narbrough.

The weather has been much better today - a few light showers but also a lot of sun. After lunch we'll be walking to Hartley for the night.

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Walsingham Day 2

We had intermittent

rain all day yesterday, but after a vast number of hymns and singing the while Rosary is Latin and French we arrived rather damp at our stop for the night, a school.

We are now setting off for Oxburgh Hall, where we are having Mass.

So we are off! Singing the Great Litany.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Walsingham Day 1

After rising in the dark and in torrential rain, we have had Sung Mass, breakfast, blessing of our 'scrips and staves', and have prayed for the healing of schism in Ely Cathedral. Fr Bede Rowe also blessed our

new banner.

It has stopped raining and brightened up. We are now off,

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Walsingham Pilgrimage Day 0

We've all arrived in Ely, pitched our tents and had dinner in the presbytery of the Catholic parish church, St Ethelreda's.

There are far more of us than last year, about 30, so the ladies have the use of the presbytery floors and the men are in a camping site.

Dinner presented some difficulties because we couldn't get the oven to work; however we overcame and had a very agreeable and sociable meal.

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Michael Voris in the flesh

So now I've seen him. You pick up a lot more from seeing someone without the mediation of an internet video, and editing. Voris is just as energetic as he seems on his website, but not as carefully scripted.

Michael Voris is not a particularly good speaker. I don't say this as a criticism, it is just a fact; we all have different talents. I've given lots of talks and my concern is always to make a coherent, structured case; I don't know if I always succeed, but for all his charisma Michael Voris didn't. His talk meandered; at one point he made an aside and never got back onto the main point, as far as I could tell. Nevertheless he had lots of interesting things to say. He spoke without notes, with urgency, making points of principle and relaying some helpful and amusing anecdotes.

He is clearly not theologically trained. A number of times I thought: 'No, that not quite the right way to make that point': he's no heretic, but gets betrayed into saying things which aren't exactly right, he doesn't always use the right terms or express things in the right way. He said all the other sacraments exist for the sake of the Eucharist: no, that's not quite right. They exist for our salvation. Baptism shouldn't be subordinated to the Eucharist; one could as easily say the Eucharist exists for the sake of Baptist, for the sake of the Christian people brought into existence by Baptism. (And how does Matrimony fit in?) However he was making a point about the importance of the Eucharist; we knew what he was driving at and I'm not going to be reporting him to the CDF.

The fact is that the people who are theologically trained, or most of them, have left it to an enthusiastic auto-didact like Michael Voris to defend the faith, in its fullness, in an appealing way to a mass audience, addressing issues of immediate concern and relevance. Yes this has often happened in the Church before. The theologians, priests and bishops who don't like Voris' style should get off their backsides and do what he is doing, better. Frankly Voris is a hero for taking on this apostolate, all the more because of his limitations; that doesn't mean he shouldn't be criticised, but he should also be appreciated.

The overall impression was good. The audience loved it. And to show my appreciation I'm going to criticise (yes, that's my way of showing appreciation) what I take to be his central point: that we should all focus all of our energy on 'being Catholic', to the exclusion of things like (his examples) stamp collecting or football.
I wish more Catholics spent less time on frivolous matters, but there is an opposite worry too: that of religious mania, obsessiveness. As Catholics we see the value of artistic and cultural things, of friendship, and of simply playing games, in themselves. They aren't the most important things, but neither are they excluded from a well-lived life. It is interesting and can be useful to relate these things to Catholic history or culture where applicable, but we don't need to do that in order to justify them. Michael Davies used to say (I think I read this somewhere, someone who knew him can correct me) that Traditionalists needed sometimes to take some time off. Davies was a rugby fan. It is actually necessary for our mental health that we aren't always wound up in a state of religious enthusiasm--even if we do try to be aware, always, of the presence of God. We shouldn't see the state of spiritual fervour as an ideal to which we only sometimes attain, but as a part of a life of varied mental states, a life which includes playing with our children, reading a trashy novel, going for a walk, having a cup of tea... and maybe even collecting stamps.

As I say, I wish more Catholics put aside their video games or gossip columns to read up on the faith, to attend devotions, to get involved in Catholic activities of all kinds. But there is a different message to be given to the kind of people who were attending Michael Voris' talk last night, the 'generous souls'. As Voris said, Catholics believe in the goodness and the salvation of the body as well as of the soul. Live a complete life; religious observance and Catholic activism may be the most important things in your life, but they shouldn't be the only things. Otherwise, you'll get burnt out and then you'll be no use to anyone. Yup, religious mania can be a danger to the Faith: your own, and other people's.

This is difficult today because everyone under the age of 60, if they care about their faith, is desperately trying to catch up on the religious formation they did not have as children and young adults; and the situation in the Church and the World is just so bad it can feel like living in a war zone. Do you take time off for pleasant excursions when the enemy is fighting their way in to your front room? Well, if you know the war is going to last at least for the rest of your life you have got to.

So! Talking of devotional activities, I'm now off to Walsingham. Look out for my live blogging from the road.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Michael Voris in London tomorrow!

I've listened to a few of his video broadcasts and I must say I'm fascinated to see him in the toupée - I mean in the flesh!

Oddly enough I saw a picture of him on a recent visit to Warwick Castle. They called him Prince Toby for some reason - it was in part of the castle dedicated to entertaining children. He looked a little younger.He'd like Warwick Castle, in fact, judging from this photo of him.
Well done to Smeaton's Corner for arranging the event - go to him to get a ticket.

LMS Press Release on WYD

Our scheme to sponsor pilgrims to join the Juventutem group at World Youth Day was extremely successful, and had to be expanded because of the demand; in the end we sponsored 22 young people from England and Wales. See our press release here. Here are some of the pilgrims.


I also spotted one in a photo on Fr Z's blog. (Update: for some reason the photo has disapeared from Fr Z but can be found on the Free Republic site.)

Not surprisingly, to those who know him (he attends the Traditional Mass at the Oxford Oratory) he seems to have found himself at the centre of the counter-protest made by WYD pilgrims against the half-witted secularists. He's the chap in the light brown shirt to the left of the flag.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Juventutem at World Youth Day

Here is a photo from Rorate Caeli, which has been carrying some reports.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Yet more photos of Chartres

These are taken by a British pilgrim so they show the UK chapters particularly. You can see them here.

They are a particular 'must' for fans of Fr Alexander Redman. Here he is disguised as a Frenchman, next to Fr Bede Rowe. It seems Fr Rowe is already looking after the Chavagnes boys, to whom he will be School Chaplain from September.

Anyone (like me) who was left behind can still sign up for the LMS Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham. See the side bar. We can't promise it will be quite as gruelling as the Chartres Pilgrimage but it will be fun all the same.

Fr Martin Edwards.