Posts Tagged ‘papal visit’

A pleb writes

August 24, 2010

This weekend, one of Britain’s leading supposedly left-wing blogs carried the following astonishing claim about the social composition of British Catholics:

And as a result, Scotland, Liverpool, Manchester and North London developed a substantial Irish Catholic, population.Which is where the problem lies. If you’re not from those parts of the UK, Catholics are simply crazy posh Evelyn Waugh types, who’ve decided that pointless treachery would be better than just admitting that an evil foreign overlord wasn’t really worth following.

This was supposed to mitigate earlier claims in the liberal blogosphere to the effect that Catholics are generally superstitious and feckless fenian layabouts, which the over-sensitive amongst us may have construed as being racist. Sentimental souls, us Catholics. Thus absolved from the threat of appearing to be a bigot, our author is free to tell us that

On the one hand, the Catholic Church is one of the most revolting institutions ever to have existed, second only to the USSR in terms of ‘well-meaning ideas invented by a nice chap that you could have enjoyed a cup of tea with, taken up by insane evil egomaniacs and turned into an excuse for tyranny and genocide’.

Causing sighs of relief to be breathed throughout the United States of America. How about that? From Jefferson to Gunatanamo, and you still don’t make it into the top two betrayers of founding principles. Nonetheless, I’ll swap you hawking indulgences for Hiroshima.

I digress. Sadly, contra the claim about British Catholics, the closest I get to being an Evelyn Waugh type is having a teddy bear I am rather fond of.  In particular I was denied the benefits of a public school education. Not only does this mean that I am unable to understand what is so palpably clear to my betters: example, how cutting public spending at the present stage in the business cycle is anything other than a very bad idea, it also means that I lack elementary reading comprehension skills. Thus, when Rosamundi wrote the following on her blog:

“Name your three most favourite prayers, and explain why they’re your favourites. Then tag five bloggers – give them a link, and then go and tell them they have been tagged. Finally, tell the person[ahem – people] who tagged you that you’ve completed the meme… The Liturgy and the Sacraments are off limits here. I’m more interested in people’s favourite devotional prayers.”

I completely ignored the bit about excluding the liturgy. The angelus and the rosary stay in. But since I now have a free slot, I’d like to give a mention to the Prayer to the Holy Spirit:

Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

I tend to say it before mass. I’ve always liked it. Scriptural and simple; drawing on the liturgy, yet capable of being made personal.

Incidentally, I doubt that most Guardianista types would have enjoyed having a cup of tea with our Lord. Bringing a sword rather than peace, and declaring the powerful of this earth to be cursed, is hardly the kind of stuff which goes down well over croissants in Hampstead. That, however, is another post. I must away to do the research which you, the long-suffering tax-payer, pay me to do.


Pot pourri

August 22, 2010

Rosamundi has been talking about her three favourite prayers. Apparently this is some kind of Caholic internet memey thing. Ever one to follow trends, unless they involve clothing or Boris Johnson, here are my three favourite prayers:

(1.) The Mass

This might seem either lazy, or pious in a sickly way, or just straight out of Father Ted. But I’ll risk all of those. Strictly speaking, the only Christian prayer is the prayer Christ makes to the Father, expressing that love which we call the Holy Spirit. We participate in that prayer by grace, even as we do not understand it, because we do not understand God. Prayer is emphatically not a matey chat to my best friend, as Christianity lite has it.. As far as this life goes I am, as Thomas puts it, united to God as to one unknown. The danger is not only one of minimising God and denying our creatureliness; there is also the worry that if I think I am in a personal relationship with God qua friend, I might think that I have comprehended her. And then I might be all too confident he is telling me to do daft things (example: invade Iraq). Better to let God be God, and to let ourselves be transformed by God in God’s humanity. The Mass is where the sacrificial prayer of Christ, the human being who is God, is made sacramentally present. It is the Church’s prayer above all else – all other prayers lead to it, and flow from it.

(2.) The Divine Office.

Reasons as follows. The corporateness of it all. The richness of scripture. The fact that it can be more or less meditative depending on one’s sate of alertness. And my ability to recite it with a cup of coffee in one hand.

(3.) The Angelus

A tricky one. Like Rosamundi, I’m going to cheat by explaining my deliberation. I nearly went for the rosary, for many of the same reasons as the office, plus a lurking fear that I would be a Bad Dominican if I didn’t mention the beads at some point. However, I’ve gone for the Angelus. It is a simple prayer, profoundly incarnational, and the collect at the end sums up the whole gospel of redemption: incarnation, cross, and resurrection:

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to your word.

Hail Mary . . .

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary . . .

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, your grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, your Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.



There is a very interesting piece in today’s Observer by Padraig Reidy, I’m an atheist but this anti-Catholic rhetoric is making me nervous


Last night I went to a vigil and meeting in support of the campaign for justice for Sean Rigg. Sean was a young black man who died in police custody in Brixton two years ago. The dignity and resolve to discover the truth on the part of his family are both moving and inspiring. I’d encourage you to support the campaign in any way you can.

More opium

July 16, 2010

A couple of days ago I managed to collapse as a result of panic and exhaustion, and was discharged from hospital under strict instructions to rest. I tell you this not to court sympathy, but rather to explain why I have spent the past couple of days doing pretty mindless things on the internet rather than undertaking the research which you, the increasingly burdened taxpayer, pay me to do. One of the less mindless things I came across was Jeremy Hardy’s speech to the nation on faith (if you’re quick, you’ll be able to catch this here.) If demonstration were needed that atheists can be subtle in their approach to religion, sympathethic to some of the values us God-botherers hold dear, and unimpressed with the provisional wing of atheism a la Dawkins, Hardy provides it. And is very funny at the same time.

This contrasts markedly with another Thing On The Internet I encountered, namely the reaction of swathes of my liberal left* social networking acquaintances to yesterday’s news that the Vatican was to consider extra-canonical ordinations of women a ‘grave crime’. Now, I have no desire to defend this decision, although it is worth pointing out that it is not supposed to represent an assessment of the relative moral gravity of these ordinations – the media have tended to present the announcement as being to the effect that ordaining women is ‘as bad as’ child abuse. What I do have a desire to do is comment on how weird the response from those I know from the Dawkins-Hitchens tendency was. Immediately Facebook statuses and tweets denounced the Vatican in the most vehement terms. This is weird for at least two reasons. First, the angry brigade seemed to think that it was an injustice not to ordain women. It quite possibly is, but then I can say that because I actually believe that it is good that people be ordained; and that ordination confers an objective character on its recipients, and isn’t simply a ritual gone through by deluded clerics playing dressing up. For people who usually think that the very existence of organised religious ministry is a great evil, whose purpose is to deceive and control, it seems odd to think that there is any injustice involved in barring some section of the human race from engaging in that ministry. It is rather as though someone vouchsafed the opinion that the real problem with the Taliban is their lack of a decent equal opportunities policy. The second weirdness is apparent when you look at the news from yesterday. To refresh your memories: yesterday the coalition government announced one of the most wide-ranging alterations in higher education funding for decades (imposing a graduate tax, and making not very veiled threats to the humanities), oil continued to pour into the Gulf of Mexico, there was ongoing carnage in the middle east, and – a development which raises all sorts of interesting questions – Derry was declared (UK) capital of culture. Amidst all of this, what did most of the self-proclaimed left think it a priority to comment on, in the most fervent terms? Answer: the news that the Vatican is not keen on the ordination of women. In other news, bears, woods…

Part of what is going on here is good old-fashioned anti-Catholic prejudice. If you want to see another example of this, look at the protests over the forthcoming papal visit. In both cases, the prejudice – which is deeply ingrained in British culture for complicated historical reasons – is accentuated by an utterly distorted view of the social and political importance of religious institutions and beliefs in the contemporary world. This is a characteristic of the new atheism: days after 9/11, Richard Dawkins told us that it was ‘religion’ which had caused carnage in New York, a view which removes middle eastern politics, the struggle for oil resources, and the personal responsibility of the killers from the picture in one fell swoop. Likewise, whilst I have no time for the Church’s possession of state trappings, the response to the papal visit issues in part from a misrepresentation of social reality. In the past decade, I have protested against a Saudi state visit to Britain and against George W. Bush whilst he was in London. In neither case were any of those prominent in the anti-papal visit movement present, with the honourable exception of Peter Tatchell. Surely, even by the most belligerently no-popery reckoning, both regimes have been responsible for more recent human suffering than the papacy. Why was the response from those whose supposed passion for justice makes them so angry at the appearance on British shores of an ageing German bishop so muted? In part, it is the legacy of prejudice. In part, however, it is that blaming religion for the world’s evils is an easy answer, and once which doesn’t involve any challenge to those who are actually in positions of economic and political power. In particular, the very middle class constituency which is the backbone of militant secularist atheism is absolved from any responsibility for the state of the world. In the best Marxist terms, Dawkinsim is ideological: a distorted picture of reality, arising from definite social circumstances, and serving to perpetuate a particular form of society. The opium of the bourgeoisie.

*For readers unfamiliar with my political views, the modification of ‘left’ with ‘liberal’ does not, to my mind, signify an improvement.