Thursday 20 October 2011

Do you know this man?


                                                    One Solitary Life 
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.  He grew up in another obscure village. 

 He worked in a carpenter’s shop until He was 30 years old and then for 3 years He was a travelling preacher. 
He never wrote a book, He never held an office, He never owned a house, He never had a family, He never went to college. 
He never put his foot inside a big city except one.  He never went 200 miles from the place where He was born.
He never did one of the things which usually accompanies greatness. 
 He had no credentials but himself.  Whilst still a young man the tide of popular opinion turned against Him.
  His friends ran away, some of them denied Him, He was turned over to His enemies, He went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. 

 His executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had upon earth while he was dying; and that was his garment.  When He was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave, through the kindness of a friend. 

20 centuries have come and gone.  He is the cornerstone of the human race and the keystone of the Kingdom of God. 

When I say that all the armies that ever marched and all the navies that were ever built and all the parliaments that have ever sat and all the kings that have ever reigned have not affected the life of man as powerfully as that one solitary life, none will ever be found to disagree.


Posted by Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow

Sunday 16 October 2011

Dr Joseph Shaw will be giving a talk on 'A Political Future for England - Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Common Good' on Tuesday the 25th of October at 7.30 PM

Under the auspices of the 'Inn Catholics' :

Venue: The Star Tavern, Belgrave Mews West, London, SW1X 8HT

No entrance fee. Voluntary contributions welcome.
Dr Joseph Shaw teaches Philosophy at Oxford University at St Benet's Hall, a Benedictine Permanent Private Hall. He is a Governor of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and External Examiner of the Maryvale Institute's BA in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition. He has published articles on Philosophy of Religion and Ethics.
Outside academia he is Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, founder and Chairman of the St Catherine's Trust, and a homeschooling father of four. He has a blog on Traditional Catholic matters at and on his philosophical interests at

Thursday 13 October 2011

Derided, mocked and spat upon – our priests are truly other Christs!

As standards have plummeted over the last fifty or so years, so there has been a noticeable lowering of respect in society.
The rude shop assistant, the stand up comedian who cracks jokes about having ‘an imaginary friend’ (being a Christian), the blasphemous piece of ‘art’.

And, over the past few years, thanks to the awful way that those in authority in the Church handled paedophilic priests and to those priests themselves, we have a very broad section of society that loves nothing more than to hit out at those good priests who cannot hit back.

I believe that, it is not that unusual for a priest to be spat upon in a public place or to be jeered at or be the subject of a snide remark uttered just loud enough to hear.

Why anyone should wish to be a priest is one of life’s great mysteries.
 As a boy I well remember nuns saying to the class:
 “Examine your inner self boys and see if any one of you has the vocation of the priesthood”…for me that was the stuff of nightmares.
It was then left to some smart Alec to pipe up and ask:
“But how will we know, Sister?” and the answer would come:
“Because God will call you Aelfric” (or whatever the boys’ name would be).

I prayed fervently every night that God would not call me; in fact  I stormed Heaven asking for God to remain silent when the name Collins came before him – and it worked!

St John Vianney - suffered greatly
throughout his priesthood

Because our priests are so very special, there used to be a code of good manners regarding them. Always, of course, use the pre-fix ‘Father’ and always stand whenever a priest enters the room. Not many people do that these days, it is not something that one need do if the room is full of people but, when a small group are gathered together it is a good thing to do. When serving food or drink, the priest should always be served first, even if there are women present.
And also, at the time of speechmaking when a priest is present, all addresses should begin with “Father Brown, Ladies and Gentlemen" or whatever.

Why should we do these things? Because a priest is there in the place of Christ, an alter Christus, and we would do no less for Him.

Now Father Simon Henry of Offerimus Tibi Domine has written a very moving and reflective post on the subject of the priesthood. The post came as I was composing this one, this is not in response to Father's one.

 I would like to contribute this extract from The Imitation of Christ for all priests and seminarians – it is sad but it is also uplifting….


“My son, anyone who tries to escape from obedience is really escaping from grace, and anyone who pursues private schemes loses communal blessings.
If a man does not submit to his superior gladly and willingly, it is that his old nature has not yet learned complete obedience, but is kicking and murmuring still.
You must learn to submit to your superior quickly, if you wish to desire to bring your old nature under control. The enemy outside, is defeated sooner, when the man within is not in chaos.
There is no enemy more troublesome and dangerous to your soul than you are to yourself when you and your spirit are not in harmony.
You must learn a real indifference to self if you want to win the victory over flesh and blood.

It is because your self-love is still undisciplined that you are afraid to abandon yourself to the will of others.

Is there anything wonderful in the fact that you who are dust and nothingness submit to men for God’s sake, when I, the Almighty and Most High, who created all things from nothing, humbly submitted to men for your sake?
I became the humblest and lowest of all, so that your pride should be broken by my humility.
Learn obedience, for you are only dust. Learn to humble yourself and to put yourself beneath the feet of all, for you are the clay of the ground. Learn to crush your own desires, and surrender yourself in complete subjection.
Savagely stamp out any sign of pride within you, and show yourself so humbled and insignificant that everyone can walk over you and tread you down like the mud of the streets.

You worthless creature, how can you complain when men find fault with you?
You blackened sinner, what defence can you make?
You have offended God on countless occasions, and have earned the punishment of hell.
Yet your soul was precious to me, and I looked down and spared you, so that you should acknowledge my love, live in continual thankfulness for my benefits, strive towards true subjection and humility, and submit patiently when you are treated with contempt”.

Posted by Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow

Saturday 8 October 2011

Exorcist dies for the faith!

The Angel St Giles High Street, aka 'The Resurrection Gate' - next stop Tyburn!

The Reformation period produced many great men and women who suffered for the faith. It was a time when the ‘recrudescence of evil’ was manifest throughout the country and beyond and it remains a mystery that so many young men courageously stepped forward to undergo seminary training in preparation for the priesthood, knowing that they were committing themselves to an almost certain death.

One such was Father Robert Dibdale*, brought up in the English heartland of Warwickshire, went to Douai and was ordained  in Rheims Cathedral on March 31st 1584.

Five months later he set sail for the English Mission and, in the course of the next two years he became a skilled exorcist; a calling much in demand at the time.

Here is a brief account of his all too short ministry.

“….at Sir George Peckham’s, Denham, near Uxbridge, and other places, by the virtue and power that Christ has bequeathed to the ministers of His Church, the martyr showed his mastery over evil spirits.
They were forced to leave the bodies of the possessed, and to bring from their mouths pieces of metal and other things which could never have entered a human body.
In obedience to the prayers and exorcisms of the Church, they declared, to their own confusion, the virtue of the sign of the cross, holy water and relics, both of the ancient saints and of those suffering in England in those days for the Catholic faith.

These manifestations were slighted indeed by some incredulous and hard-hearted heretics; yet others who were not so prejudiced by passion, but more reasonable, were convinced by what they saw, and thereupon renounced their errors.
Father Dibdale was condemned to die for his priestly character with BB. Lowe and Adams, driven to Tyburn and there hanged, drawn and quartered, October 8, 1586”

*also listed as Richard Dibdale (Debdale)

Blessed Robert Dibdale, John Adams and John Lowe


Posted by Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow

Thursday 6 October 2011

Priests as Instruments of Grace

Fr Daniel Seward, of the Oxford Oratory, preached a wonderful sermon on the priesthood last Sunday, following the ordination of Fr Nicholas Edmonds-Smith on Saturday 1st October. He reflected on the role of priests as servants and instruments of God, and commented that a vocation to the priesthood is not found by demonstrating certain abilities, as though anyone were properly ‘qualified’ to act as Christ himself. It is all done by the grace of God. This is clear when one reflects on the liturgy, and how the priest must submit himself entirely and faithfully to it, with no room for imposing his own personality on what God has instituted in the Holy Mass:

‘We should not come away from Mass conscious of the personality of the priest who celebrates, rather, it is the person of Christ in whose person the priest acts that is the only important factor. This is why, as Pope Benedict says, there is no room whatever for creativity in the liturgy. Every word, every gesture, should come from the Roman Missal.’

I had already been reflecting on this following my visit to Blackfen for the 1st October meeting of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma. It was my first experience of High Mass in the Old Rite, and I was very struck by the beauty of the vestments worn by the celebrants. For those who do not understand that the priest is Alter Christus, it might seem that these splendid robes are an arrogant affectation, a sign that the priest considers himself somehow more holy or more spiritual than the laity. But of course, the more splendid the robes, the less focus there is on the priest as personality, and the more clear is his role as an instrument of Divine Grace. And this is especially true when one is looking at his back!

This applies to the Sacrament of Confession as well. It is so helpful not to be able to see the priest. At the Oxford Oratory there is a screen, and a crucifix to look at as one kneels to make confession. All of this reminds one that the priest is acting as an instrument of Grace, a channel which God has chosen.

It seems to me that in these times when so few people have any real understanding of the sacred, it is more important than ever for priests to take every opportunity to show to the faithful the fullness of the truth about what ordination means, especially by their administration of the Sacraments. Ordination is an astonishing work of God, whereby he demonstrates that he can take useless human materials and transfigure them, so that they can do infinite good.

And of course it is also possible for priests to do infinite harm, which is why we so urgently need to pray for holy priests. Fr Daniel quoted Therese of Lisieux: "Alas! how many bad priests there are, priests who are not holy enough...Let us pray, let us suffer for them." He also mentioned the comment of St John Bosco, that the walls of hell are lined with birettas.

But in many ways this infinite capacity and great responsibility applies to every one of us. When we make ourselves into a living sacrifice, offering everything up through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and united with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, then we too become channels of God’s grace, mysteriously participating in the divine plan of redemption. When we submit to God’s plan by praying the devotions given to us by the Church, and particularly by Our Blessed Mother, and by receiving the Sacraments instituted by Christ, then we too can leave behind our personalities, instead becoming the person that God made us to be.

Posted by Anthony Radice (A Tiny Son of Mary).

The full text of Fr Daniel's sermon can be found here.

Photo by Mac McLernon (see her Flickr site).

Sunday 2 October 2011

The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma at Blackfen, Saturday 1 October 2011 - A short report on a wonderful day!

Fr Tim Finigan discusses Catholics and the new media
The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma held its first official meeting yesterday, on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year! Around 15 Catholic bloggers and users of the new media travelled from all over Britain to meet at Our Lady of the Rosary parish, Blackfen. The day started with High Mass (EF) and included a talk by the well-known priest-blogger (and member of the Guild), Fr Tim Finigan. It also included some socialising and an informal meeting, and ended with a celebration of Solemn Vespers and Benediction.

A Catholic first? Three blogging priests as sacred ministers
Many of the Catholic bloggers who belong to the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma were present for High Mass, which was celebrated at 10:30am as part of the parish's Saturday devotions. This Mass, though, was rather special not only for the excellent serving provided by the team of servers and the beautiful singing offered by the Schola, but because all three sacred ministers were Catholic priest-bloggers. The celebrant was Fr Tim Finigan (The Hermeneutic of Continuity), whilst Fr Sam Medley SOLT (Medley Minute) acted as Deacon and Fr Simon Henry (Offerimus Tibi Domine) was Sub-deacon.

During the homily, Fr Finigan reflected on the importance of Our Lady within salvation history. He also quoted St Louis de Montfort, who deplored the fact that even Catholics can sometimes seem embarrassed by the Church's devotion to Mary. Over the centuries, as Fr Tim Finigan pointed out, there have been iconoclastic or puritanical movements that seek to downplay or threaten devotion - especially in the form of images - to Our Lady and the Saints. Some have even suggested that certain events following the Second Vatican Council, when many churches were needlessly re-ordered and statues were removed, was a kind of iconoclasm. But it seems, partly thanks to those Catholic bloggers who often post beautiful images of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints on their blogs, that the Church is currently re-embracing Catholic art and culture, as well as her devotions to Our Lady and the Saints.

My Lord and my God!
After Mass, Fr Tim Finigan addressed the assembled bloggers and parishioners in the parish hall. His talk was on "Catholics and the new media", and he spoke with great eloquence on the need for Christians to be present online. In saying this, Fr Finigan was re-echoing the words of Pope Benedict XVI, who has often spoken explicitly - in his messages for World Communications Days, for example - of the need for Catholics, and especially priests, to blog and be active users of the new media. It was sad to note, then, that one priest (a Diocesan Communications Officer, no less) has recently stated in an email to Richard Collins (Linen on the Hedgerow) that "blogging as currently manifested should be made a serious criminal office because of the significantly negative comments that are so often made about people who are trying to do their best are so destructive to the good of society" (emphasis mine).

After reflecting on the fears that many in the Church have regarding blogging and the new media, Fr Finigan concentrated on the good that blogging can achieve; though he also suggested that bloggers do need to examine their consciences from time to time - just as all Christians should. It is sometimes best not to publish some posts, and prayer can often help us discern the blogging choices we make. Having said that, one of the joys of blogging is that other bloggers will usually temper uncharitable or harsh posts or comments, or will seek to offer another opinion or way of approaching a controversial topic. Another benefit that blogging and social media have brought humanity (and the Church) is the fact that ordinary people are now able to hold to account those who are in authority over them. This shifting of power has been an uncomfortable experience for those used to being in control, and has led many authoritarian regimes to try and shut down the blogosphere altogether. In that sense, it could be said (this is my interpretation) that blogging can be a prophetic tool. As Fr Finigan said, it is certain that many of our greatest and most prophetic saints - such as Blessed Titus or St Louis de Montfort - would have been bloggers if they had been alive today.

You have prepared a banquet for me... 
After Fr Tim Finigan's very interesting and enlightening talk, all the Guild members were invited to the parish social club, where we were treated to the most delicious buffet lunch I have ever tasted! Many bloggers got to chat and catch up over a drink and some food - making valuable contacts and sharing some of their blogging stories with one another.

The Guild then met for an informal meeting, which began and ended with prayer, and during which many practical concerns were discussed. Amongst these was the planning of the next meeting and Guild Day, as it was agreed that the need for Catholic bloggers to meet and pray together is a highly important one. It was also agreed that one of the main functions of the Guild is to enable bloggers to offer help to one another. It was also felt that the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma had achieved some amazing things since its inception (only 5 months ago), and that the present informal structure was working remarkably well - though this might change in the future. A few members suggested that it would be good for one of the group to write an article on Catholic blogging, and other plans for the promotion of the work of Catholics who use the new media were also drawn up. Richard Collins handed out Guild prayer cards, which we used at the end of our meeting. Please contact me ( if you would like one of these cards, which were kindly made by one of Richard's daughters. Proper minutes of yesterday's meeting will be sent to Guild members during the next few days.

The Guild Day ended with members joining parishioners from Blackfen for Solemn Vespers for the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Yesterday at Blackfen was a most enjoyable, prayerful, enlightening and wonderful day - and on behalf of the Guild I would like to thank all involved: Fr Tim Finigan and his parishioners, the sacred ministers (Fr Medley and Fr Henry), the MC and servers, the choir and musicians, those who prepared the buffet meal and opened the bar, as well as those who travelled so far to be at the event. Blessed Titus Brandsma will have his work cut out for him to ensure that the next Guild Day and meeting will be as good as this first one!

Here is a list of the Catholic bloggers and users of the new media who were present at yesterday: -

Fr Tim Finigan (The Hermeneutic of Continuity)
Fr Sam Medley SOLT (Medley Minute with Fr Sam)
Fr Simon Henry (Offerimus Tibi Domine)
Fr Michael Clifton (Fr Mildew)
Stuart James (eChurch)
Paul Priest (On the side of the Angels)
Mac McLernon (Mulier Fortis)
"Hilaire Belloc" (The Hilaire Belloc Blog)
Leutgeb (bara brith)
Annie Elizabeth (Defende nos in proelio)
Anthony Radice (A Tiny Son of Mary)
Richard Collins (Linen on the Hedgerow)
Roy Hobson (the commentator "Vesper")
Me (A Reluctant Sinner)

Those Guild members who wanted to be at the event, but couldn't make it were: Laurence England (The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill); Chris Owens (Benedictus Dominus); James Preece (Catholic and Loving it!); Greg Beaman (A Brief Encounter); Sean Gough (Trust in You); Jane Mossendew (Thoughts from a Catholic Oasis); Stephen Moseling (St Pauls Bookshop Blog); as well as these two anonymous or semi-anonymous blogs: Juventutem London and Catholic with Attitude.

Blessed Titus Brandsma, pray for us

Photos by Mac McLernon (please see her Flickr site)

By Dylan Parry (A Reluctant Sinner)
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