Thursday, 26 December 2013

Beauty and the Beast: A tale for St Stephen's Day

Happy St Stephen's Day. This painting is from the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh. Beautiful. Notice the two men in pink: one is a typical bad guy, the other of divine beauty; almost like St Stephen's diabolical twin. The beautiful killer also looks calm and reflective, whilst the other killer guy looks crazed. Which just goes to show that mobs can be dangerous, but also that a beautiful, intelligent and reflective young man is equally capable of martyrdom and murder, with full knowledge and full consent. Something that teachers keep noticing ... The mystery of free will ...
There is also a kind of resignation on the faces of the main killer, the beturbaned grandee and, of course, the Saint, who can see Christ in glory. So many things to think about.

Thursday, 28 November 2013


I do not ask to see the distant scene;
My steps, like streams, or tears unthinking flow
Towards far off, believed-in pastures green
Yet God above hath sent good friends below.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Young knights in shining armour

Help our young Catholic knights in their crusade for the knightly virtues!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The sleep of the just

A friend recently told me that I shouldn't be surprised to find that one gets tired being good. He said that personally he found it very hard work.  He reminded me that St Paul urged us: "brothers, never tire of doing what is right."
"But being bad, " he said, "can be tiring in its own way ... and at the end of it there is no rest."  As the saying goes,  I thought, 'no rest for the wicked.'  I had never, in fact, thought about the true meaning of that saying.
And then I remembered a tapestry in the Castle in Angers - an enormous work of art displaying scenes from the Book of the Apocalypse. Coincidentally, I saw it last year, with the same friend. It contained a representation of the Sleep of the Just.
In this month of November, as we pray for the dead, it is a consoling thought that we too, after our labours, may hope one day to 'rest in peace.'

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

What on earth are we doing?

Chavagnes boysWhat on earth are we doing? Half term is a good time to take stock and think about our lives at school. Here is what we say on the Chavagnes website about what we are all about. I guess we fall short very often, but this is what we are trying to do: 
 "In Chavagnes, Christ is the model for teachers and pupils alike. How could a traditional Christian education do anything else? ... we feel that our culture is at a crossroads, a choice between a culture of life and a culture of death; and the young people of today are those who will ensure that future generations will respond to the challenge of reclaiming our civilization for Christ."

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

What a beauty!

Miss World 2013 is from the Philippines. Megan Young, 23, is against sex before marriage and thinks that the most beautiful thing in the world is an unborn baby. Praise God for real beauty.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Catholic Choirboys, Cassocks and Carols

We need your help to give the choirboys of Chavagnes International College a well-deserved Christmas gift, to equip them for their litigurcal apostolate ...

Please take a moment to visit the link below!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Light in the darkness: Chavagnes scouts

 Max, one of our Year 13 pupils, is installed as Assitant Scoutmaster. Our Scouts walked 15km to La Chabotterie the other day to the place where General Charette was captured at the end of the Vendée uprising. In what by all acounts was a very moving ceremony several new members received their neckerchiefs ('foulards') in the colours of Scarlet, gold and azure.
More information about the aims of the Scouts de Chavagnes can be found on their site

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Backing the wrong side again?

Reports on the Telegraph and BBC websites recently mentioned a rebel leader in Syria cutting out his opponent's heart and eating in front of his men. And now (23rd June) a Catholic priest is reported as being beheaded (with a kitchen knife) before a baying mob of UK-financed rebels.

What exactly are Cameron and Obama hoping/fighting for?

The sad truth of wars and civil wars is that there is not always a good side and a bad side ... pray for peace. That's all I can think of.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

We fly to Thy Protection

Storms ahead! Pray to Mary,
to protect the Church.
"We pray to Our Lady to protect us, and in times of spiritual turmoil the safest place is under Our Lady's mantle. She is the mother who takes care of the Church. And, in this age of martyrs, she is the protagonist, the protagonist of protection. She is the Mother. ... Let us say it with faith: 'The Church, Mother, is under your protection. Take care of the Church'!"

Pope Francis, on 15th April 2013.


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

X-treme times: the left is radicalising the right ...

Hommen protestors
Hands off my culture!
Yesterday anti gay-marriage protestors in Paris took a leaf out of the feminists' book, and whipped their shirts off for the day. The FEMEN have been getting a name for themselves recently, more often than not protesting against the Church. And so now the HOMMEN are on the rampage. Bare-chested and wearing colourful trousers they could pass for their own opponents in this politcal debate, except that they don't have the tanned, waxed and polished look one has come to associate with homosexuals. Apparently a few of them are homosexuals though; it's just that they don't believe that society should ditch the concept of one mummy and daddy make one baby.
But now the government has rushed the bill through the Senate, cut down parliamentary debate time, and will ensure no doubt that it becomes law before Christmas.

So what will these young men do now? They are being disenfranchised. They are the kind of young men I know very well: from conservative Catholic families, a hankering for the Ancien Régime, and a strong sense of national pride. Increasingly they are left without hope and without a voice, living in a country they no longer recognise as the one they were born in: for François Hollande, in his  New Year speech, the unique vocation of France and the key to her identity, is to engage in progressive social reform. Nothing to do with high culture, art, music, gothic cathedrals, haute cuisine, a sense of style and occasion ... no, it's all down to legislation now. That is the new French identity. It is an old debate between the two Frances: one for constant revolution, one for tradition.

Up until recently the two ideas of the nation had learned to live together, with a political swing from left to right every few years, just to keep the philosophical clock ticking. Most French people have always been traditionally-minded in all sorts of ways, and viewed politicans and the whole business of government with mistrust and some scorn. The real business of life was lived in families and communities just as it always had been, with attachment to tradition going hand in hand with organic change.

Political correctness, however, has come to mean that the views of the HOMMEN will soon have no droit de cité. They will have just have to shut up and be quiet, or radicalise. And there are as many of them around as there are disoriented, jobless Moslem boys in the inner cities ...

Inclusivity has long been a concern of the whole political class here, especially the left. Now they have screwed up big time. If they can manage to marginalise a whole generation of the best brought-up, best educated and most idealistic of their young people they are storing up trouble for the future.

Who knows what kind of meltdown will happen when there are more people on the margins than in the centre? It is likely to happen sooner than our rulers think.

And, just in case you thought these gentlemen were unthinking yobs ... they even quote Kipling :

Without faith, without truth, we cannot defeat the Powers of darkness

Interesting quote from Baroness Thatcher from Damian Thompson:

"Christianity is about more than doing good works. It is a deep faith which expresses itself in your relationship to God. It is a sanctity, and no politician is entitled to take that away from you or to have what I call corporate State activities which only look at interests as a whole.
    So, you’ve got this double thing which you must aim for in religion, to work to really know your faith and to work it out in everyday life. You can’t separate one from the other. Good works are not enough because it would be like trying to cut a flower from its root; the flower would soon die because there would be nothing to revive it." (Interview in the Catholic Herald.)

The first reading in her funeral service today, about defeating the powers of darkness only with God's help, was on the same theme.

The first hymn, "He who would be valiant be" reminded us that even the Iron Lady was, like all of us, a pilgrim. I did not always see eye to eye with her, but today I shed a tear for her, and will keep her soul in my prayers.

Beautiful music for her end-off. England at its best.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Refuse Antinous? It is going to be hard

Antinous, the Emperor Hadrian's
deified boyfriend. Hadrian's
subjects were forced to worship
him after the boy's death.
Our rulers in France accuse the opponents of gay marriage of not being 'straight' with their arguments. They are not putting on their cards on the table, the socialists say.
But that criticism cuts both ways. And the social reformers are hiding even more.

The transformation of birth certificates so as to include Parent A and Parent B, and the school textbooks that will follow on in order to promote the idea to children in primary schools, will have the effect of imposing a minority view about marriage and family on the majority. Schools will have to promote the excellence of the new arrangements, and little ones who say "but I have a mummy and a daddy" will be told to shut up.

It will no longer be possible for the child's mother and father to be publicly recognised as such. Acknowledging the fact of a mother and father will be become something banished to the private sphere. Discovering that new friends also come from a traditional family will be the kind of nice surprise one gets when one finds out they share the same religion or went to the same kind of school. But one never asks outright ... That would be rude. And soon, asking a guy if he ever had a mum and dad could soon even be illegal. References in schools (including children's stories) and public documents, to mothers and fathers will have to be modified so as to be freed from 'homophobia'. All of this is already underway ...

Then, the idea that one should be able to marry whomsoever one choses is a powerful one. But the problem is that once one accepts that there should be no limits on marriage, why not follow the argument through? If a man loves two women and they love him then perhaps one should not seem to fall into bigamophobia (and what about the Muslims, with all their wives?).

If it is all about sexual orientation then perhaps we need to be fair to bisexuals too; they are much more commonplace than homosexuals, and yet even more persecuted and marginalised by society; no marriage for them ... a successful businessman who wants to marry an energetic young man plus a warm, caring and elegant lady to be the mother of his children finds no comfort in the new social reforms ... but he no doubt will, if he can just hang on a few more years. Because once polygamy is opened up in order to be fair to Muslims, then bisexual marriage will have to come next in order to satisfy the sleeping giant of the bisexual minority (or will we discover that it's a majority?)

Promoting three-way bisexual marriage would even have the effect of solving the problem of where two women or two men will get the new baby from. No need for surrogate mothers or expensive medical treatment ...

It is all just a slippery slope into anarchy. And the custody battles in divorce cases will be so intracatable that we will in the end just have to leave the children at the mercy of the adults fighting over them, or doing worse to them ... what about the fact that the age of legally informed consent to sexual relations is dropping everywhere like a stone, and that judges are increasingly refusing to sentence couples for incest. It will not be long before the momentum gathers to legalise incestuous gay marriage (is it morally any worse, after all?) and perhaps even incestuous heterosexual marriage, and certainly the legal situation of adolescent children is going to become increasingly problematic; if 13 and 14-year-old children in countries such as Spain and Germany can legally have sexual relationships with an adult, then what happens if they campaign for the right to marry?

So, opposition to gay marriage is also opposition to an enormous and barely veiled agenda of social reform that is gaining enough momentum to keep Pandora's box open for decades to come, until such time as our families and relationships are in the biggest mess they have ever been in since Adam and Eve. Talking about this in public, and in my job as a schoolteacher, is going to get harder and harder.

Soon, I fear, we will all be worshipping the beautiful Antinous if we want to stay out of jail. Who dares stand up to the Emperor?

Desperate thoughts on Good Friday. But there is a lesson in that: our Lord's disciples felt, no doubt, that they had failed and been abandoned that day, only to discover that all that suffering and confusion was a prelude to the glory of the resurrection.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Pope Francis

We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us that there is nothing we can do in the face of violence, injustice and sin.

Pope Francis, Palm Sunday, on Twitter!

Friday, 8 March 2013

And now for the Women ...

I don't want to miss the opportunity to wish all the ladies in my life a very Merry International Womens' Day. Thanks for all the gentleness, warmth, beauty and grace you bring to my life. 

I suppose we are all glad that the canons of feminine beauty have moved on since the ninth century BC ...

"My Lady is beautiful, beautiful beyond compare; so beautiful that when one has seen her once, one would wish to die so as to see her again; so beautiful that when one has seen her, one can no longer love anything earthly."  St Bernadette.

Ave Maria!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The challenge; well, one of them, anyway.

We Catholics have not only to do our best to keep down our own warring passions and live decent lives, which will often be hard enough in this odd world we have been born into. We have to bear witness to moral principles which the world owned yesterday and has begun to turn its back on to-day. We have to disapprove of some of the things our neighbours do, without being stuffy about it; we have to be charitable towards our neighbours and make great allowances for them, without falling into the mistake of condoning their standards and so encouraging them in sin.

 - Ronald Knox, from "In Soft Garments"

Good hypocrites and bad hypocrites

A certain Scottish Cardinal is being accused of hypocrisy. Samuel Johnson reminded us that hypocrites preach what they do not believe in; not necessarily what they do not practise.

"Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself." (Johnson. Source: wikipedia)

Is the alcoholic who counsels against the dangers of drinking a hypocrite? Is the man who tells his wife he loves her a hypocrite because he has sometimes been unfaithful? (Should he tell his wife even if he thinks it would destroy her? Well, no, not if he loves her ...) And what about the Labour politican who drones on about racial equality and homophobia but has no black, asian or homosexual friends, because he actually dislikes such people? Or the outspoken egalitarian who secretly send his kids to private school?

There seems to be a lot of hypocrisy about hypocrisy ...

I don't deny, of course, that recent news from Scotland will make enemies of the Church even more angry and will be a great source of discouragement and scandal for the faithful.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Gay marriage: What about Australia?

I notice that Bishop Peter Elliot told parishioners at the London Oratory recently that the Australians had just voted against Gay marriage.

Funny that the European papers kept that quiet.

Cardinal O'Brien is, we are told, a bigot because he thinks gay marriage is 'shameful' and 'grotesque', but what about the whole of Australia, which obviously came to the same conclusion, through the democratic process?

Let's not be bullied by the politically correct.

Pity about O'Brien, though. In the middle ages, oddly, a bishop could probably just have done public penance (rather like Clinton after Monica Lewinsky) and then have just got on with life.  His authority would not be diminished in the way O'Brien's has been.

I have been re-reading Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter, and there the medieval parish priest berates his flock for their moral shortcomings, and tells off the children when they deserve it, but also has no complex about providing for his daughter, begotten out of wedlock. Such arrangements were common in an age where having an abortion would have been a theoretically capital offence, but having an illegitimate child was just one of those things.

What about an eldery bishop, then, who admits to having a sometimes difficult-to-control weakness for young priests, but is sorry about it, asks us to bear with him, and still tries to teach us how to live
a good life? The fact of being honest about it might help him to overcome it. I wonder, would that kind of honesty and lack of hypocrisy work in the twenty-first century? After all it worked for many kings, emperors and bishops in the past. Probably not.

Funny old thing, original sin, isn't it? And a funny old thing is progress, too.

I suspect that we will soon live in an age, if it it is not already upon us, where we will all know everything about each other - a kind of awful anticipation of our joyfully resurrected state - so we will have to get used to the fact that although everyone's sins are different, we all have something so badly wrong with us that only the death of God's own Son is enough to make up for how shameful and grotesque we all are. And in his love and mercy we are all made beautiful and holy again; a little every day, and most perfectly in the resurrection. Isn't that great?

In the meantime, may God have mercy on us all.

BTW, another BIG recent story, ignored by our papers, was the public penance done by the President of Uganda back in November. One big issue for the Ugandans has been to face up to their own sins in order to fight more effectively against the foisting of gay marriage and other liberal agendas on them by the post-Christian north. Here is what he said, just before Christmas:

"Father God in heaven, today we stand here as Ugandans, to thank you for Uganda. We are proud that we are Ugandans and Africans. We thank you for all your goodness to us.

I stand here today to close the evil past and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness.
We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation.

We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal.
Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict.
These sins and many others have characterised our past leadership, especially the last 50 years of our history. Lord forgive us and give us a new beginning. Give us a heart to love you, to fear you and to seek you. Take away from us all the above sins.

We pray for national unity. Unite us as Ugandans and eliminate all forms of conflict, sectarianism and tribalism. Help us to see that we are all your children, children of the same Father. Help us to love and respect one another and to appreciate unity in diversity.

We pray for prosperity and transformation. Deliver us from ignorance, poverty and disease. As leaders, give us wisdom to help lead our people into political, social and economic transformation.
We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfil what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own.

I renounce all the evil foundations and covenants that were laid in idolatry and witchcraft. I renounce all the satanic influence on this nation. And I hereby covenant Uganda to you, to walk in your ways and experience all your blessings forever.

I pray for all these in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

Now, there is a leader one could follow with a joyful heart! God bless you, President Museveni!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Robert Burns ... in France

Keeping up the good old Scots traditions ... for Burns' Catholic credentials (!) see my speech from 2009 :