Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Pope's Lenten Message

Thanks to Fr Ray for the link here.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Well that's the Pringles finished

We decided on the school trip that Pringles are a marvel because they contain only E numbers. But I've just read the back and they do have dehydrated potatoes in salt, fat and E numbers. So a great deal more nutritious than you may imagine.

Solitary pancake making is rubbish. You have to use one egg and that just makes loads of pancakes. I know because I have done it. So Pringles instead.

Fr Tim reviews that article


As Fr Z says he has a readership of more than 23 000, daily.
Everyone who wants to has already read both their fisks of the complete article.
It was put up last Thursday after all.

I have a very modest readership. Hi both of you!

I just write a blog to add support to other people in the firing line.

Update Slow readers can read Fr Z's fisk here.
Been on holidays? Off you go to see what's going on.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Shrove Tuesday Menu

So, what's everyone planning, whilst I languish at a Parents' Evening with only a bottle of mineral water for company?

May have a bacon sarnie from the groovy, happening cafe on the way to work, even though it's not the morning after a BIG concert and I will have had more than 5 hours sleep. Decadent eh?
Get that Carnival mask on!

Last Sunday, she who cheerily makes the tea and coffee after Mass had lots and lots (and some more) homemade flapjack and scones. Yummy. As she said, there won't be any next week.

Mm Maybe not

Bara brith, the unpublished bolshy bits.

The 'and another thing, whilst I'm on the subject,' renta rant posts.

'Cos you could really go to town on this Tablet thing.

Or not.

I don't have any photos of Mass. I don't generally look at the Priest anyway. I don't want to be an expert in checking he's doing the right thing. That's his responsibility. Let him get on with it, I say. The less I know, the less I can be distracted. (Grandma RIP Rule No.1 Never criticise Priests or Mothers. They have things down to a tee in West Clare.)

The Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos Mass at Westminster Cathedral was quite something. Something you could really get excited about. Outside on the Piazza afterwards there was a great buzz. Big crowd. The huge congregation, waves of people kneeling as the Cardinal passed. The singing. The atmosphere.... But really, as with all intangible things, you just had to be there.

Someone once said to me,'How are you?' and I was very touched by their kindness, but it sounds like nothing in the re-telling.

(Sorry that does sound somewhat melancholic. Quick put the Mahler 10 on. Time for the 'Aach, Alma!' bit. Cue late Romantic Austrian angst.)

Sunday, 22 February 2009

James MacMillan - top man

and fellow Durham Music Graduate, (though he has a PhD and me a mere B.A.)

borrowed from Holy Smoke.

Dear Ms Curti,
I am a Scottish Catholic composer who has on many occasions contributed articles to your magazine, The Tablet. I have always seen the journal as an important and sensible Catholic voice in the media. Nevertheless, I have been alarmed at the drift of the paper in recent months, especially relating to matters to do with the liturgy, which is a special interest of mine. Your latest article on Fr Tim Finigan has unfortunately plumbed new depths that I thought I would never see in a Christian publication. The whole tone was disrespectful, mischief-making and opportunistic, lacking no palpable sense of Christian charity. The Tablet has a special responsibility not to allow these issues to develop into a "civil war" between Catholics. Our liturgy is in a deplorable state and, in the spirit of Vatican II, it is imperative that steps are taken to reform the reform for the good of the faithful. There is no attempt by the Pope, or Fr Finigan for that matter, to turn back the clock. The limited reappearance of the Extraordinary Rite will contribute to a renewal and blossoming in our wider liturgical education and awareness, and in the process advance the faith of Catholics starved of good practice in this regard.
The implied assaults on the character of Fr Finigan were a disgrace, and at one point, when you suggest financial impropriety, may be actionable. I hope the good parishioners of Our Lady of the Rosary can find it in their hearts to forgive you and pray for you.
Yours sincerely,
James MacMillan CBE

Recent News

I haven't commented on The Tablet article because I think it is terrible that such a thing could be published in a Catholic newspaper or any newspaper.

As it has been published, well what would be a good next step?

Everyone goes out of their way to support their Priests?
We all support all the good things in our Parishes?
Continue to not buy The Tablet.

I would always shy away from a big row, but in the words of Fr Ray, 'Enough is enough.'
Maybe The Tablet trustees haven't yet noticed that the small number of practising Catholics in their 30s are just not interested in their 'vision' of the Church. We read blogs and watch the Holy Father on his YouTube Channel. We don't need the print media and can get instant access to Vatican documents. We can read them straight away without having to have them interpreted for us, or boiled down into the bits the media can interpret in a contrversial way. We know the BBC is rubbish on religious news.

Because, if you are going to be so countercultural as to actually go to Mass every Sunday, why would you want to do it in a way critical of the Church? Hey, you can just be like everyone else and stay in bed. Then you won't have people calling you rigid as I have been called or have to enter into boring conversations along the lines of, 'But surely it doesn't matter if you just miss one week?'

And now back to digging....

Sunday 22nd Feb; Be kind to your PP Sunday.

Digging alone no more

Yesterday I got digging again in the lovely sun. (Is this becoming strangely familiar? Yup this is morphing into a monoblog.)

The ground was much easier to work, but the main news is that the plot next to mine has been taken. The new tenants were busy clearing it and I look forward to seeing how much they got done. Quite a bit, I think, as they were really going for it. Next door but one over some very high brambles an old gent has dug out trees and all sorts and his is beginning to look like a patch you could plant stuff on. He's done plenty hard work. This allotment site is a bit rougher looking than the 'posh' ones I see from the train. We have trees and sheds all over the place, but it's great that nearly all of it is being cultivated.

Meanwhile, the tomato seeds in the egg boxes in the airing cupboard have germinated and are in the kitchen.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

A frightening moment

Thought I should re-read the new AS Syllabus this pm, just to check that I was doing the right thing and that the pupils have done everything they need to when I started to read scary words. ( I often type sacred music as scared music, a Freudian slap or is it just the way I sing it?)

'Candidates will complete ATB to a given melody line continuing from an extant incipit,' or words to that effect, under the heading Bach Chorale. Gulp. Other headings were Baroque 2-part Counterpoint, 16thC Polyphony etc, which didn't make me feel better, because we haven't done them. Then I realised that I was reading the A2 Techniques Paper bit, flipped back ten pages to read about the correct use of standard cadential formulae (tick), avoidance of consecutives (tick), Roman numerals, inversions... and everything else we've been doing. Phew. My HoD laughed when I told him.

Then I played the other Music Teacher scary game. Find the GCSE Coursework recording from the hard disc recorder, which numbers tracks randomly as far as I can see ( and hear.) Anyway, found the piece and renamed it. Best to do this in Feb. Leave it 'til April when you are filling out the forms and you can feel your heart racing.

Coursework marking causes hysterics and it's not listening to the recordings, ( well only occasionally and behind closed doors), it's the fact that you often record the same piece 3 or more times to get 'the one' and then have to remember which one is 'the one.' I love this time of year.

Time to crow bar my first rye bread loaf from the bread machine. This may be the first and last such loaf I make. Depends. Looks a bit bricky to me.

Holy Father quotes St Bede


Encouraging words on Sacred Music

by Peter Phillips (Tallis Scholars) from The Spectator.

People make assumptions about how other people think, and then influence the zeitgeist by broadcasting their findings.

People make assumptions about how other people think, and then influence the zeitgeist by broadcasting their findings. There is a circularity to this rule of thumb which is ultimately sterile, but which takes some deconstructing. One of the current such verities is that sacred music in worship is of no wide cultural relevance, either because it’s too clever and boring (polyphony), or too stupid and boring (folk masses); anyway it can be of no interest to anyone except fanatics.
This is not a thought about the secular achievements of groups like the Tallis Scholars, but of the gradual revival of good singing in the Catholic Church in recent years. Two events have shown the way: the music which accompanied Pope Benedict’s recent visit to Australia; and the remarkable, if largely unnoticed, push in France to found choir-schools (or maîtrises).

The music list for the Pope’s visit to Sydney was an eye-opener. Apparently the local clergy had proposed the usual dog’s dinner of ecumenically safe big-hearted tunes, sung by one community choir after another, until the Vatican intervened. When the Pope’s choice was known, one commentator (Noel Debien of St Francis, Paddington) wrote: ‘There were gasps of horrified surprise from 1970s Catholic liturgy-lovers (who prefer “Kumbayah, My Lord” and “Leaving On A Jet Plane”)’ as Victoria’s Missa Vidi speciosam and Palestrina’s motet Tu es Petrus (‘a look of bliss’ escaped the pontiff as it began) were sung liturgically. Also performed by papal command were the Gregorian Propers for the day, including ‘Introibo ad altar Dei’ as the procession reached the sanctuary. The motet at the procession of gifts (sung by a massed youth choir) was Mendelssohn’s ‘Sehet, welch eine Liebe’, sung in German, a fact which further inconvenienced the Seventies radicals. There are those who pray that Obama will not be shot; and there are those who pray that the Pope will not die of old age any time soon.

The improving choral scene in France is little trumpeted in Britain, possibly because it has taken a leaf out of our own book. The first of the modern foundations was masterminded by a Briton, Robert Weddle, in Caen in 1987. Edward Higginbottom helped with the establishment of a similar enterprise in Versailles a few years later. These set the scene for a series of initiatives which, spread about the country like Vatican II, couldn’t be undone fast enough. Not all of these resulted in new schools — some went no further than to channel existing resources towards the ideal of better choral singing in the liturgy; but in some cities serious sums of money, sometimes donated by France Télécom, have been found to kick-start a new tradition. In Nantes, for example, the cathedral maîtrise was opened in October 2007. Others, like the ones in Paris, Strasbourg, Dijon, Rennes and a host of other cities, speak in their blurbs of a life which pre-dates Napoleon, but in fact have recently overhauled themselves in the face of changing priorities.

The current French scene, which is evolving fast at the moment, originally had nothing to do with the Pope’s enthusiasms [Heaven forbid, though as we are talking France and not England, maybe the fact of a musical Pope with a Kappelmeister brother is not irrelevant.]but resulted from an instinctive and widespread sense that enough had been enough.

Not for the first time in the history of sacred music has a period of populism in worship been replaced by a renewed desire for sheer beauty, which in the Catholic Church has tended to mean a return to singing chant and Palestrina. However, unlike the last time this happened — in the early 19th century — the vastly superior standards of modern concert hall performances of this repertoire now set a benchmark which the cathedral choirs cannot ignore. The hope is that in time the French cathedral choirs, like our own, will not only be singing to fanatics.

The French go way back in Sacred Music - Notre Dame Polyphony- who could forget Leonin and Perotin?Machaut, who wrote the first extant polyphonic Mass setting .... so good for them. Does he mean musical fanatics, religious fanatics or just regular odd bods, I wonder?

Monday, 16 February 2009

Sacred and Great

The main bit of this article is that everyone can now read Fr Tim's paper on the liturgy, which is great. You'd be crazy not to. Very clear, totally approachable. Or you could save it up for after next Wed.

In other news. I have a Parents' Evening on Shrove Tuesday. Now how can that be right?
When am I supposed to be able to eat pancakes and chocolate and .....?
I shall be scoffing on the train home and maybe during the Parents' Evening.
'Sorry Mr & Mrs X is part of my religious practice. Feasting 'n' Fasting.'

Maybe I'll even buy a bacon sarnie on the way to work...Mm the possiblities are endless.
Hand out sweats to homeless people in the street....

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Not so Ordinary

Over here in Extraordinary land, there's seemingly no Ordinary Time between the end of Christmas and the beginning of Lent. (Skip on if you know all this. Here she goes again.)

The Gloria has gone and the Alleluia and we are into Tracts. This is all very exciting and purple already.

My Grandfather wrote an RE textbook in the 50s called 'Red Letter Feasts for Catholic Schools with illustrations from the Old Masters' and it contains some useful pie charts (for he had a Maths degree,) on the liturical year. I should have a look the next time I'm at my parents. It never got re-published after Vatican II. Too many closed questions and not enough opinions, I guess. No break up into groups....

Sometimes I think it could have been like my Maths Textbooks were when they went metric or even more groovy SI Units. (No-one told our Orbit Theory Lecturer who was still describing g as 30 ft/s squared in 1990....) Vatican II Updated Edition.

Unfortunately, he died in 1975 just after my fifth birthday, so we never got to talk Maths, or teaching or Ireland or anything, alas.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Sisters of the Gospel of Life

need to pay for their new wheels here.

Paypal 'n' everything. Now how easy is that!

A Novena for the Holy Father

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory be.

V: Let us pray for our Pope Benedict.
R: May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

V. Thou art Peter,
R. And upon this Rock, I will build My Church.

Let us Pray, Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon your servant, Benedict, our Sovereign Pontiff, and guide him in your goodness on the way of eternal salvation; so that, with the prompting of your grace, he may desire what pleases you and accomplish it with all his strength. Through Christ Our Lord.

V. Mother of the Church.
R. Pray for us

V. St. Peter.
R. Pray for us

Starts today.
The Catholic Blogosphere; all praying from the same book.

A Day with Mary

or in my case a morning and lunch-time. (If you could only see how little of that allotment is dug, OK, maybe 5%.)

I like processions a lot, but it is a little odd saying the Rosary walking down a London suburban street, with lots (and lots ) of other people. People stare. Or maybe that just speaks volumes about me.

A comedy moment was provided when the B13 Bus stopped and six people got out to join the back of the procession. Now that the buses announce the stops, someone suggested at lunch-time that the event should be added; 'Burnt Oak Lane- Day with Mary.' Now that would be good. The bus, by the way, was of the type featured in the Dawkins bus ad pic. Also amusing.

Mass ended with a rousing and much needed rendition of 'God bless our Pope,' which I seem to think we sang a lot when I was a child, but maybe it was just 1978. Can't remember.

Bara Brith, here with the trivia as usual. Mac will have the pics, I expect.

Friday, 13 February 2009

A Timely Quote

from Valle Adurni.

"Nothing emboldens more the audacity of the wicked than the weakness of kind people."

Leo XIII, encyclical Sapientæ Christianæ, January 10th, 1890


Just spent 90 mins in solitary digging. At this rate 2 hours a week for a month and I may get to the big pile of debris in the middle in time to plant some stuff. Back tomorrow am, weather permitting. I'm trying to get into a routine, me. I've read those stories of people who take on allotments and give up, so I'm going for the little and often approach. The earth is a little heavy at the mo - London clay plus rain and snow, but I have now turned over and removed masses of roots from a strip the width of the plot.

Back home to plant some tomato seeds in egg boxes and put them in the airing cupboard. Very Blue Peter. Toilet Rolls next...

My Mother is already glazing over every time I start talking enthusiastically about seeds and it's only Feb! Mere specks turning into carrots. How is that not amazing? She's very appreciative of the results however and I do go on (a bit.)

Thursday, 12 February 2009


School trips have upsides and downsides.

You do get to go places and see interesting things with teenagers who are generally enthusiastic and interested in things, but may be very sleep deprived, stay in very budget accommodation and have to deal with any emergency that may crop up. We just had one boy who walked past the place we were eating in one night, who was lost for about 10 minutes. It was a very busy street in a very busy city and we were very worried.... He was found and did not seem terribly upset by the whole thing. He doesn't know what could have happened... Then there was the boy who bought a football and was trying to get someone in a duty free shop in the airport terminal to give him a pin to puncture it before he got on the plane. They aren't into sharp pointy objects in airport terminals and instead gave him a paperclip. I was more concerned that the flight was about to be called, personally.

One of the other downsides is the food and we teachers decided that we have eaten our quota of fried foods and salt for the whole year. In a reaction to what was on the menu for the last five days, I've been re-acquainting myself with the tub of rocket outside my kitchen door. It's bounced back after the snow and is very dark green. I sowed it last summer - very economical. Yum.

Home again

After an uneventful school trip, that's uneventful in the good sense, I am now at home. I even got to go to Mass on Sunday in a Cathedral and the Mass was celebrated by a Cardinal and they had an excellent organist and choir. It just gets better.

I am now enjoying my two day half term and today it is one of my brother's birthdays so off for lunch at my parents, where I was able to hand over the swag I had purchased whilst away. everyone was happy and my brothers were on good form.

Thursday, 5 February 2009


Off on a school trip early tomorrow, weather permitting. Back on Wed.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Support Pope Benedict

Sign here.

Interesting Times

School is back on tomorrow, so I may end up doing what was planned for the rest of the week whereby each day has some big concert or travelling to be done. To the station early, I think.

My brothers are each having a more unpredictable, non-snow related, time just now, so at least it's just public transport which is providing my uncertainties.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Viva il Papa!

Folks more informed than me, (so that would be most people then,) are commenting on how the Pope is being attacked by many people. One of the downsides of the interweb is we can all read all this stuff and the nasties can gang up more easily.
I'm with Jane. More rosaries needed.

Boris on snow

'The right type of snow, just the wrong sort of quantities. ' Brilliant. I like Boris, at least he'd be cheery in a disaster and throw in some classical quotes. Maybe the news people are miserable because they are at work and the rest of us are not

Tuesday school has now been cancelled and our concert postponed.

Ambulance brother stayed with my parents last night as they live closer to his ambulance station than he does. His shift started at 7am this morning, so he and my Dad dug his car out at about 6am to do a journey that usually takes 15 mins. My Dad enjoys this sort of thing. He got to use his snow shovel. It reminds him of Wales. Ambulance brother similarly likes this sort of thing and was expecting a very busy day. He was adamant that he had to be at work on time as the first call after 7am was down to him. It's just said on the news that the LAS is only responding to life-threatening calls. Must be taking ages to get to people.

Stay at home snow

Trudged to the station where the man said the magic words, 'No trains all day.' Then a text from HoD, saying school is shut. Great.

It won't be great if the same happens tomorrow as we have a concert... But for today. Yippee.


15cm at Marble Arch, London Buses suspended.....

Stay at home snow, maybe.

Will trudge to the station and see what's up.

Sunday, 1 February 2009


Took a trip with some French friends to the Byzantium exhibition at the Royal Academy today which was excellent. Any civilisation that can produce all those beautiful images is worth reading a book about. Fortunately, they had lots, so um something else to get stuck into... still only on p79 of 'War and Peace.' Anyway, makes me wonder what people will be looking at from our culture in 1500 years time, never mind listening to. I hope we are at the beginning of a new flowering of things beautiful and good.

Meantime. I hope all the snow goes quickly. Having had one afternoon off in 16 years due to 'stay at home' snow, I think I'm due a few days, but I really do not have time for them this week. I need boys in orchestras and bodies in the audience. And to think I was digging this morning before I went to Mass....