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Showing posts from August, 2012

A Triumph of Faith

Just finished Triumph, by HW CRocker III. It's a breathless romp through 2,000 years of the Catholic Church's history; well footnoted and very triumphalistic. Unputdownable and a great spiritual tonic; full of hilarious anecdotes for Catholic dinner conversation too.

Triumph on AMAZON (UK)

Why a run or a fight can solve your emotional problems ...

Well, if you are a boy, at least. If you are a woman, it seems talking is the best therapy. 'Catholic schoolmaster' has a thoughtful article on the subject, here.  The odd thing is that we are - it seems to me, perhaps thanks to the influence of feminism  - conditioned now to think that talking through problems is the superior way of dealing with them, and yet it is difficult to replicate the feeling of well-being one gets from a swim or a long walk. I even felt it after my rather meagre efforts in our staff vs. boys football match at the end of term ... I remember an old priest of the Diocese of Aberdeen, Canon McQueen, who used often to be sent wayward priests by his bishop. The story is twenty years old, so it is safe to tell it, and the Canon must have gone to his eternal reward by now. The angst-ridden young priests would arrive pleading that they had lots of problems to discuss. He used, he claimed, simply to give them a packed lunch and tell them to climb the mountain n…

Is Paris worth 6,000 Masses?

I have been reading Louis XIV by David Ogg, who has a very entertaining and fast-paced style. It's an old book, first published before the Second World War. He talks about Louis XV, great-grandson of the Sun King and quotes some interesting statistics:
In 1744 the new king, Louis XV, was dangerously ill and it seems that over 6,000 citizens of Paris spontaneously arranged for Masses to be said at Notre Dame for his speedy restoration. The king made a miraculous recovery. About a decade later, the same thing happened, and this time 600 Mass stipends are recorded in the books of Notre Dame. And the monarch revived again. When the king really was on his death bed, in 1774, only three Masses were said for his health. And the king passed on to his eternal reward.

Now, three possible conclusions could be drawn, I suggest: first, King Louis XV became less popular as time went on, or, secondly, the belief in the Divine Right of Kings (which is of course an erroneous belief, anyway) waned…

Our Lady of Eton, Assumed into Heaven

Once upon a time, pilgrims, wearing badges like this one (you can buy a replica for £3.50 from, received a plenary indulgence when visiting the Chapel of Eton College on the Feast of the Assumption. the pilgrimage was not the only mark of devotion to Our Lady at Eton: the boys also used to recite the Little Office of the BVM, starting with Prime as they made their beds.
As with many other pilgrimages, this one was abolished under Henry VIII.
But Eton continued to reverence the Mother of God

After the Reformation, under Cromwell, the boys fought back the Roundheads to protect their beloved Virgin, ensconced above the front door of their school. The soldiers got the message and did not come back; She is still there today, being lifted into Heaven by two angels.

Books and films for boys and men

I suppose that when you spend your life with children and young people it's a good idea to be able to enjoy some of the same things they do. And so it is, somehow or other, that my taste in reading and films has reverted to what it used to be when I was a teenager: Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Ancient Britons ... with plenty of battles; and always the over-arching storyline of a young man growing to adult maturity and wisdom, or at least, trying to prove himself.

I began a while back with Simon Scarrow's Praetorian, which I picked up on special offer at the airport. I turns out to be number 11 in a series, so as I enjoyed it, I suppose I am now going to have to backtrack and read the others.

The story is about a young officer and his hardy, older sidekick who get involved in political espionage in the heart of Rome. Their job is to uncover the culprits of a plot to murder the Emperor Claudius.

It has the occasional bit of colourful language, as you'd expect with soldiers, eve…

Brideshead Regurgitated

Just watched with a friend the recent (2008) film version of Brideshead Revisited, and I have to confess that everyone who had told me they would not watch it (because it was sure to be a travesty) was absolutely right.
It was absolutely terrible. First off, Sebastian falls in love with Julia right from the outset, and she is the main love interest on the holiday to Venice, so in no real sense is Sebastian 'the forerunner' as in the book and the orginal BBC series. But it is also part of a successful attempt to destroy any sense of development or direction in the character of Charles Ryder. The Charles we see at Oxford is exactly the same Charles we see at the end of the film. He does not become a Catholic and appears never really to have loved Sebastian at all. Even his passion for Julia is reduced to something animal, without any real depth of fellow-feeling.

Lord and Lady Marchmain both come across as incredibly vulgar, despite good acting from Michael Gambon, and the wond…

Theatrical week in London

Just returned from a week of culture in London. For £5 per ticket, I enjoyed Henry V, Richard III and The Taming of the Shrew in Shakespeare's Globe, near London Bridge. Lovely weather, great atmosphere and nothing to do with the Olympics. Although London was looking very clean and tidy, no doubt to impress all the visitors; I was certainly impressed, with London in general and the Globe in particular.

The problem with the Globe is that it is unusable outside of the tourist season, because of the rain (it is open to the elements). So they are building another one, a Jacobean indoor theatre, for about 12 million pounds (!) just next door. This will enable them to stage Shakespeare plays with that touch of added Jacobean authenticity, all year round. And the new theatre is going to be lit, apparently, entirely by candles.

700 standing tickets are available for each and every perfomance at the Globe, but you need sturdy legs and you will get wet if it rains.