Friday, March 28, 2008

Fr Nick Knisely's long quote from an essay by Anne Hunt made me think: I've never actually preached a sermon on Christ's descent into Hell (or "descent among the dead" as the cleaned up version would have it) in all the years of my ministry. I must rectify that before Pentecost.

Amongst all the media caricatures of clergy which are a constant source of irritation and resentment there are a few which are an awful lot of fun. Fr Dougall and Fr Ted get lost in the lingerie section. Fr Jack ends up in the toy department.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

No question that we remember things better when we sing them

Amazing coincidences

On Monday as we were driving back from our long walk in the country the step-dog passed wind rather nastily in the back of the car. The step-son-to-be could not let this go without comment accompanied by waving arms and all the requisite facial expressions. I took the opportunity to tell him the story from the 1001 Nights called How Abu Hasan Brake Wind. Wanting to be a good step-father and knowing, as I do, the degree to which small boys thrive on stories which make references to farting I supposed it would be a good bonding exercise.

It was an elderly clergyman in the Diocese of Montreal doing a locum at the church where I was the honourary assistant who told me the story perhaps six or seven years ago as we were sitting around the office waiting for the faithful to gather for Mass. I haven't thought of the story since. Until Monday I'd never found myself in the situation of needing such a story.

So after having told the story at about 3:30 in the afternoon on Monday and after having delivered my fiancee and her son back to their house in West Linton I poured myself a cup of coffee and listened to the downloaded episode (March 22) of News from Lake Wobegon which ended up being an updated version of How Abu Hasan Brake Wind.

Strange, non?

Mr Happy Goes to Church

From our friends at ASBO Jesus

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No it's not exactly my new religion.

But it has proved a bit of a distraction during an otherwise rather busy week. It is of course my brand spanking new

which my beloved gave me for my birthday last week. I'm only now figuring out how to use the damned thing. I've subscribed to a couple of podcasts - News from Lake Wobegon, Thought for the Day on BBC 3 and the CBC nightly news programme - the World at Six.

I've got about half of my disk collection on it so far - need to go back into Itunes and join up the various movements of the classical music so that they don't get shuffled like singles.

One really interesting snippet from this week's Spectator was the interview with Dom Hugh Gilbert conducted by Mary Wakefield. In light of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor's eventual retirement the rumour mill is speculating that Fr Gilbert will be his successor. Hugh Gilbert OSM is the Abbot of Pluscarden here in Scotland and Mary Wakefield rightly asks the question:

Why a monk? Why even consider giving England's soul to a man who's spent 33 years buried in northern Scotland?

The answer, according to the Wakefield's reading of the pulse of 'Vatican gossip' is that the Pope: concerned about our capsizing country and wants England to have a devout, inspired leader - one as far removed the tired clique of England's urbane and power-hungry liberal bishops as possible

and in Dom Hugh Gilbert they've apparently found their man.

It's a good interview. The journalist admitted to some discomfort - she started with the fact that the Abbot was known as a 'holy' man and wondered aloud on several occasions what that might actually mean. Some of the questions posed to the Abbot are fairly basic: what exactly do monks do? What is the raison d'etre of 30 robed men gliding around in isolated surroundings. What does prayer do?

The best part of the interview is provided directly by the subject in the form of the short email which Mary received once she'd returned to her office and starting banging away on her old typewriter:

Dear Mary.

You may well have decided that I was not worth 'profiling', which I would quite understand. If not, am I allowed a little follow-up?

I like the idea that beauty and holiness are the apologia for Christianity. The beauty of Christianity needs to shine out more; this is where the celebration of the liturgy becomes central. And the goodness of Christianity, i.e. the holiness of self-giving love (the witness of charity) and of prayer, needs to be sustained and developed. And this too, certainly: that the one thing Christianity has to offer is Easter. Simply: Christ is risen!

Fr Hugh

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Monday walk along the old Roman road near Carlops with the wife-to-be and the soon to be stepson. We endured about five different types of weather in the course of an hour an a half including a few snow squalls. Cold pasta and hot coffee at the halfway point.