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Showing posts from 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.


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.

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.'

What on earth are we doing?

What 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." 

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. 

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!

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

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.

We fly to Thy Protection

"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.


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

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 han…

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 pilgri…

Refuse Antinous? It is going to be hard

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 nic…

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!

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!

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 …

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 h…

Robert Burns ... in France

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