Thursday, 29 July 2010

Pope kvetchers: kvetching about papal visit costs, but forgetting to backbite about other causes of expenditure?

According to Lord Patten, the momentous occasion of the papal visit may cost up to £12 million. This is causing some organisations to have angry outbursts, tears-popping-at-the-eyes and hands clenched frenzies, while they kvetch such sums of money should not fund the papal visit. Lord Patten has been quick to articulate that the one-day G-20 summit cost £20 million. But why do we not hear the Pope detractors/Pope kvetchers complain about this enormous expense? Could it be that they are not sincerely concerned with kvetching about costs, (I mean, why don't they take issue with other public expenditure budgets?) but more interested in detracting from the papal visit?
                                                                          ***
English is an enormously rich and eclectic language with words from Yiddish that were derived from the Pope’s mother tongue, German. I’ve chosen the Yiddish word ‘kvetchers’ (‘keh-vet-cher’ as in rhyming with ‘Jessica Fletcher’) for the Pope detractors. According to Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish, a ‘kvetcher’ is ‘anyone, male or female who complains, frets, gripes….A chronic complainer. ‘What a congenital kvetcher’!’’
The verb ‘to kvetch’ comes from the German ‘to squeeze’ or ‘to pinch’. Now, I’d like to see ‘some’ start their penny pinching with the organisers of the G-20 summit.
Thanks to Vincenzo for posting the Zenit article on Sancte Pater

He took two motorists to court, blaming them for his wife's abortion


Recently in Ireland, a High Court judgment was passed that denied compensation to a married couple. The middle-aged married couple had taken an action against two motorists, claiming that the careless driving of the two motorists had been responsible for the wife’s abortion, and secondly the man’s vasectomy.
Yes, this is not a made-up court case!
The wife had been involved in a road crash in 1996, and afterwards suffered soft tissue injury to her neck and back, tinnitus and stress. After the crash, she became pregnant, but had an abortion in England because she feared the pregnancy would aggravate her health problems. In the past few years regretting the abortion, the couple sued for damages because they hold the motorists who caused the crash responsible for the wife’s abortion. If they hadn’t caused the crash which caused her back problems then she wouldn’t have sought an abortion…
The judge rejected this attempt to blame others for the wife’s abortion, on the basis that the wife’s life had not been in danger by the pregnancy when she travelled to England. As the judge noted, “her life was not in danger by reason of the pregnancy”.
After her abortion, to prevent any further pregnancies, the husband had a vasectomy, from which he suffered a post-operative pain condition and mental distress. The husband maintains that he would never have had the vasectomy were it not for the negligence of the motorists who crashed into his wife’s car.
Both the ‘termination’ and the vasectomy were done because the wife’s doctors had advised that pregnancy would pose risks to her mental and physical health.
Forgive me for being a stubborn pro-lifer, but the motorists were not responsible for the wife’s pregnancy after the crash, nor were the motorists responsible for the doctor’s exaggeration of the risks posed by pregnancy. And yes, clearly the doctors exaggerated, because as the judge had to explain to the couple, her life was not in fact at risk by virtue of the unborn baby in her womb. Also, the married couple quietly avoided holding the abortion clinic responsible; did the clinic ever check to see if the risks posed by the pregnancy were life-threatening? Would the clinic have been honest enough to state that the reasons for the abortion were not genuine? The married couple sued the motorists because they had lost a baby, but who actually removed the baby limb by limb? Is it not also telling that the couple lament the loss of a baby through abortion, but the very people who promote abortion would deny it was a baby?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

It's still outrageous bullying, even if the victim has mental illness

For my once-in-a-lifetime good deed, I made a map, packed an energy bar and set out to find a London hospital. My intention was to visit an elderly acquaintance who, during this last week suffered her umpteenth nervous breakdown.
I rang her unit, told them to expect me, and when I arrived a care assistant was waiting outside to take me through the maze of corridors where humorous cartoons hung on the walls. I was taken to see ‘Enid’ in the day-room where several elderly people were parked around a loud TV set watching the most dire 1980s American soap opera with characters screaming such intelligent lines as “I can make the earth move with one flick ma’ hah-and”. Watching this stuff would…
Enid was delighted to have a visitor, and the lady who sat next to her insisted that I took her seat. Enid was quite overcome, ‘no one here gets visitors…’ and forgetting her audience she said, ‘some of them over there have never had anyone come in.’
Looking down at her clothes she apologised, ‘sorry that I look so dishevelled. My clothes are all crumpled. I have only a few clothes that you can wear in this heat…and they’re wrinkled. Oh dear, I hate the way they wash my clothes, they put them in the washing machine with everyone else’s clothes, and well you never know what way the clothes might come back after being with all their clothes…’ she gave a darting, suspicious look to the other inhabitants of the room. The fact that her clothes were being bundled up with the clothes of the other patients caused her huge distress, and she went into enormous detail about how her clothes ‘get squished and mixed up with those people and their problems’. She thought that wearing her clothes, after they had been washed with those of other mental health patients would make her more ill. She started crying and complained that she wanted her clothes washed separately.
When she calmed down, she asked me some questions about my family and then with a look of great shock, she told me that over fifty years ago her baby-sister had disappeared and had never been found. Abducted? Murdered? No one ever found out, and this was the major traumatic episode that initiated her first breakdown. ‘I’ve given up thinking that she might be alive. And if she is, she probably wouldn’t want to see me. She left me…’ she said in an aching voice before quickly adding, ‘just look at me! I’m a mess, with my creased clothes. They won’t iron them.’
I stopped one of the care assistants and asked her if there was a programme for ironing the clothes.
She turned to Enid waved a set of fingers that had extremely long blue nails and said, ‘you knows the score. I says the same thing all the time, that yo’er clothes get washed with d’other and yo no like this. You wanna yo’er clothes washed separate. Huh! What cheek!’ Then she gave me a smirk that said, ‘she’s mental you know’.
‘But you wash my clothes with hers! I’ll get worse.’ said Enid pointing at a lady who was so thin she looked like her body was made of matchsticks.
‘You no gonna get worse! You bin here every year since I started. You comes in and out madam and you knows that people who got no family get their clothes washed.’ Her voice got more accusing with each word and pointing a finger at different patients she sneered, ‘she gotta have her clothes washed cos she got no family. He got no family can wash his clothes. I gotta do all their washing and don’t need you saying I’m making you worse.’ Enid’s irrational thoughts were painful enough for her, without this lady-dog giving her a punishment-style lecture.
‘My clothes are never ironed…’ said Enid. In an ideal world Enid would have told the care assistant “thank you” for merely washing the clothes, but the fact that her clothes weren’t ironed caused her to start crying again.
‘You knows that ironing your clothes iz not in my contract. Ironing is not written in my contract, and I no gonna to do it out of the good of my heart. That simple. Iz not in my contract.’ Repeat ‘iz not in my contract’ by ten. In fact, the care assistant went over to another patient and said ‘you wanna yo’er clothes ironed too, well iz not in my contract. I don’t never iron yo’er clothes.’
Thankfully Enid didn’t ‘get’ this last bit of a crass rant about contracts, but I thought it
Being a care assistant is a difficult job that requires a lot of patience – I know – I had this job during my university years. But why remind a chronically ill patient that they ‘got no family’, especially when the tragic loss of her only sibling is a grief from which she has never recovered? And why repeat relentlessly that ‘iz not on my contract’? Ironing may not feature on the list of duties to which the care assistant is bound, but surely ‘caring’ does, and this Lady, (albeit extremely anxious anyway) felt especially badly on account of not wearing ironed clothes.
I hope to get answers to the above when I write to the hospital with more precise details of time and place, and explain that the finger pointing, the revelation of personal details concerning the other patients (‘he got no family’) and the way Enid’s level of distress was heightened was not favourable for improving the anxiety levels of the patients. Oh and I’m sure ‘engaging in patronising and disrespectful conversation just because they’re too depressed to defend themselves’ is definitely not on her contract.
PS - For purposes of preserving her anonymity, I’ve refrained from giving her real name and ‘idenifying details’ have been changed.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

CS Lewis on Contraception. Part Two


When the user becomes the used…
A friend of CS Lewis, Sheldon Vanauken in his autobiography A Severe Mercy included many letters written to him by Lewis. Including letters which pour scorn on Vanauken’s decision never to have children with his wife and instead to contracept. Lewis reprimanded Vanauken for his ‘voluntary sterility’, and for not letting his wife become a mother. Lewis illustrated the matter with allusion to the Gospels,  "Chris­tians…would of course agree that man and wife are ‘one flesh'…. But surely they would add that this One Flesh must not (and in the long run cannot) ‘live to itself' any more than the single individual. It was not made…to be its Own End. It was made for God and (in Him) for its neighbours — first and foremost among them the children it ought to have produced."
In his academic work (that is oh-so accessible and easy to read) writing in 1960, after societal acceptance of contraception had grown throughout the fifties, CS Lewis describes a world with indiscriminate use of contraception; where sex exists more for satisfying lust, than loving the other person or begetting babies. In discussing Eros (The Four Loves) CS Lewis observes ‘we use a most unfortunate idiom when we say, of a lustful man prowling the streets that he “wants a woman”. Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want. He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus. How much he cares about the woman as such may be gauged by his attitude to her five minutes after fruition (one does not keep the carton after one has smoked the cigarettes).’

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Patience is a virtue, but essential for priests...


He was dressed in grungy grey clothing and he looked as if an inch of dirt clung to him. Grey curly hair straggled around his face, but I could see an obvious sneer as he brushed past the Oratory father who was leading us in prayer. A small group of us (the Confraternity of the Precious Blood) were assembled in the Our Lady of Sorrow chapel to pray. Before passing us, the grubby grey man scoffed gruffly and cleared his throat. Then he leered at the priest. What’s he doing in this church? Is he a down-and-out?
Several minutes passed, and the man came back with a lighting candle in one hand, and a large white and black lump in the other. We kept praying The Seven Offerings of the Precious Blood. Grubby grey one giggled under his breath, and then put the lighting candle into one of the confession boxes. A woman quickly went into the box and blew out the candle. The priest’s attention was no doubt distracted, but more so when the man strutted up to him, and standing very close to his face, in fact he was about ten inches away, pointed this large lump of melted wax at the priest. Lump?
Really, it was a ball of congealing wax that the man had no doubt gathered in the church. The church had been full, and the candle trays overflowing and it would have only taken him minutes to make this ball. Looking at us with a painful grin, he pointed the ball at the priest and held it there for about seven seconds. The priest was reading the written prayer intentions from green sheets of paper, but whilst this man was goading him elfishly with this wax thing, he never lost concentration. He kept reading the intentions, without so much as a tension in his voice. The priest was calm and collected. The man turned the dirty wax article. Whatever next?

Looking at the ball of wax, I saw that there was an old camera stuck in the middle of it with wax surrounding it.  The grubby grey one strutted away and we continued praying.
PS - There are those who say that the man should have been more carefully supervised in the church and when he was assembling the ball of wax should have been stopped. But if all of us, when before a beloved saint or Our Lady are ‘supervised’ when we light candles (for fear we will gather balls of wax and aim them at priests?) does that not take away from the closeness and privacy of personal acts of devotion?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Prayer Meme

Kate (At Home in My Father’s House) tagged me for Mulier Fortis' prayer meme (thank you Kate), and here I detail which are my three favourite prayers. 

I hereby proclaim the rules of the meme:
"Name your three most favorite prayers, and explain why they're your favorites. Then tag five bloggers - give them a link, and then go and tell them they have been tagged. Finally, tell the person 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 favorite devotional prayers."

My favourite prayers are:

The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary – Our Lady of Fatima asked for the daily recitation of the Rosary six times. And whilst I find the Glorious hard to concentrate on, I find the Joyful much easier to meditate on. The Presentation in the Temple is my favourite decade. I pray a lot to Anna-in-the-temple, and last year prayed for a friend who was pregnant and who later called the child 'Anna'.

Chaplet to St. Michael which include prayers to the Archangels. Uplifting. Effective. Extremely meritorious. How did someone as Densa (as opposed to Mensa) like me get a first in my final exams? This will be the subject of a future post.

The Seven Dolours. So many promises. So few the minutes it takes to say it. And so instructive that Our Lady suffered so very much, and was not spared excruciating mental anxiety. She understands the complexities, angst and disquiet that we all suffer. I have prayed this prayer when I feel nervous and anxious, and it has relieved my tension. 

Now, I tag:
Fr Finigan. The courage he has shown in his blogging gives great example to us all. 
Luke Coppen. Luke works extremely hard, and The Catholic Herald is a fine paper. 
The Ironic Catholic. The PJ Wodehouse of Catholic bloggers.

Last step! I must tell the above bloggers that they have been tagged.

CS Lewis on Contraception. Part One

Did CS Lewis ever condemn contraception outright? A detailed review of his writing affords knowledge that CS Lewis arrived more firmly on the anti-contraception side.

1931. In a letter to Warren, his brother, CS Lewis gave the following observation, "we had tea at Wheatley, Barfield denouncing birth control. I could not help thinking, though I hardly cared to say, that a man married to an obviously barren woman was in this matter an arm chair critic." 1947. In a personal letter he wrote that he didn’t have "a general position about contraception. As a bachelor I think I should be imprudent in attacking it: on the other hand I should not like the job of defending it against almost unbroken Xtian disapproval. But it isn't my business." And in another letter, addressed to a Mrs. Johnson nine years later, he wrote simply, "Birth control I won't give a view on; I'm certainly not prepared to say that it is always wrong."

1933. The Pilgrim's Regress contains Lewis’ first public musings on contraception. John, the protagonist and ‘pilgrim’, has a meeting with Mr. Sensible and verily the atmosphere created by this passage is truly like Lucy’s visit with the faun in Narnia. But much darker, and with a deliberate sinister edge. Mr. Sensible smugly muses to the young man John, ‘to cut off pleasures from the consequences and conditions which they have by nature, detaching, as it were, the precious phrase from its irrelevant context, is what distinguishes the man from the brute and the citizen from the savage’. Sensible welcomes ‘even more beneficent contraceptive devices of our later times…. That man who can eat as taste, not nature, prompts him and yet fear no aching belly, or who can indulge in Venus and fear no impertinent bastard, is a civilized man. In him, I recognize Urbanity — the note of the centre."

After Mr. Sensible, John meets Mr. Broad, who stands for modernist religion, in particular perhaps, that era's tumultuous tensions during the 'modernising' of the Anglican community. Mr. Broad is Mr. Sensible "oldest friend" and his "quite near neighbour." The obvious symbolism in Mr. Broad’s name is that he represents the ‘wide’ ways and not the ‘narrow’ path of Christianity.

1945. Lewis meditates on the profound implications of the global prevalence of contraceptives with The Abolition of Man. That this generation creates the next; ‘there is a paradoxical, negative sense in which all possible future generations are the patients or subjects of a power wielded by those already alive." But with new trends for limiting peoples, ‘by contraception simply, they are denied existence; by contraception used as a means of selective breeding, they are, without their concurring voice, made to be what one generation, for its own reasons, may choose to prefer. From this point of view, what we call Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.’

Lewis did have a naïve faith in contraception, but still sought arguments against it.
1955. He wrote in a personal letter that, ‘now that contraceptives have removed the most disastrous consequences for girls, and medicine has largely defeated the worst horrors of syphilis, what argument against promiscuity is there which will influence the young unless one brings in the whole supernatural and sacramental view of man?’

PS - You can just hear the screams of some in response to Mr. Sensible’s disgustingly offensive contemptuousness that contraception will prevent ‘impertinent bastards’. But if these screams come from the pro-abortion lobby, we must ask why they support a facility that enables the death of 600-700 unborn children every day in the UK. They may not use terms of abuse to describe ‘the products of contraception failure’, but they will subject them to the worst abuse.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Never again could ‘they’ say it was ‘a sin’ to go to the Tridentine Mass


Prior to 7/7/2007, how these invectives used to fill the air; ‘you have no right to go to a Latin Mass. That was banned!’ ‘It’s an act of disobedience to go to a Latin Mass, it’s only obedient to go to the Pope’s Mass, which is the English Mass.’ Or worse of all, ‘it’s actually a sin now to go to the Tridentine Mass.’  A minute before the Motu Proprio was announced anti-Latin Mass nonsense was thought to be valid intellectual speechifying. But that changed instantly with the Pope’s pronouncement that the Latin Mass was ‘never abrogated’; and ‘the love’ that young people in particular have for the Latin Mass was acknowledged.
The Motu Proprio was a groundbreaking, historical occasion – and put the kibosh on that ‘disobedience’ double-talk.
The Motu Proprio had a hugely positive influence on my teaching of the faith. The year after the Motu Proprio, I was teaching history to a bunch of ten year old boys. The Irish curriculum prescribed that they learn about life in 1950’s Ireland, when their grandparents were growing up and attending the Latin Mass. I simply gave the children a few facts, and a few ‘visual aids’ about the Latin Mass, and invited them to interview their grandparents about the Latin Mass. It really took off; their grandparents became extremely enthused about explaining the Old Mass, and the children became more competitive about whose gran/granda had told them the most about the Latin Mass. It also gave the children a real flavour of local culture; ‘my nan [grandmother] says to me the gir-erls weren’t allowed wear red nail polish or bright lipstick to Mass, and the fan-cay dresses they would wear dan-cay-ing were not allow-ed at the auld Mass eye-ther’
Never did the grandparents tell the children that the Mass had been ‘banned’. And one day I heard, ‘Miss O’Reee-gah-an, where d’ya get the auld Mass now? In America or someplace?’ I told them that there were more Masses being planned, that week, in their own town. 
Mass (forma extraordinaria) in Ss Peter and Pauls Church, Cork

Sunday, 18 July 2010

'Living in sin'


Marriage is becoming the endangered institution according to latest research; marriage will be down by a half in the next generation. People who Never marry will outnumber (for the first time) married couples. But it’s not as if parts of the population en masse are taking religious vows and that the Jesuits are having a revival (as if…) but rather that many more are cohabiting. It’s estimated that there will be a sixty five per cent swell in cohabiting couples.
Cohabiting will increase that much, really? But if marriages are set to radically decline, than the prognosis is that the majority will never say ‘I do’, instead they might ‘shack up’ and ‘live in sin’ interminably. Oh no, I've used really anti-social lingo, and to say this term in public risks volcanic emotional reactions from 'shaker-uppers' or cohabitees. Some may even start crying, and scream, ‘why did you say ‘living in sin’!?’  It’s amazing that anyone is ‘free’ to live with whomever they want, and have the ‘choice’, but ‘we’ are not free to offer an opinion, nor do we have the ‘choice’ as to say 'living in sin'. But the ‘you’re so old-fashioned and judgmental for saying living in sin’ reaction is outrageously defensive. This guilty reaction was dramatised in the televised version of Brideshead Revisited. 

PS-I remember that a former colleague of mine was afraid to talk to me or even say hello because she knew I was a practising Catholic (the statue of Our Lady of Fatima on my desk may have given it away) and was afraid that I might breath something approaching the dreaded words..'living in sin'. The fear of the words was that terrifying...

Saturday, 17 July 2010

'How Cameron can show more love to his party...'


I was caught by the cheeky headline ‘How Cameron can show more to his party’ to Tim Montgomerie’s article; it argues that Cameron’s weakness is his lack of bonding with die-hard Tories, and with people of a more conservative mindset who are most likely to vote Tory.
My personal opinion is that there is much in Tory policy that is enormously beneficial for Catholics, but it’s veiled because of a hypersensitive reaction to the Guardianistas who promptly sneer at any ‘favouritism’ to institutionalised religion’. But if the ‘good’ policies remain poorly communicated, and in essence ‘hidden’, they risk seeming apocryphal. Also, there’s a lot of love-ins with the ‘progressives’ but not with those of a traditional religious way of life. Hence an interesting point from Montgomerie ‘it was great that Cameron held a reception for gay Britons but where, asked Paul Goodman, is the reception for church leaders?  In a thousand ways like this Cameron should be honouring traditional as well as new supporters. No voters should be taken for granted.’

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Ah Tony, Ed and Mandy, at last we agree on something...

Mandelson’s memoirs have a poison-claw cattiness, claiming that Blair called Brown ‘mad, bad, and dangerous', and described Browns as "flawed, lacking perspective and having a paranoia about him.” According to Anthony Blair, Brown was "beyond hope of redemption.” Mandelson quotes Blair as having said,

"He's [Brown] like something out of the mafiosi. He's aggressive, brutal ... there is no one to match Gordon for someone who articulates high principles while practising the lowest skulduggery"
Well, Tony darling, it takes one to know one.
Mr Miliband on Mandelson: “I do not begrudge him at all the chance to offer his reflections, because I think he [Mandelson] served the party extremely loyally.
Agreed there Ed, Mandelson is only one of the most contemptible politicians to have ever held sway in British politics. He suited Lab’uh’ fine and dandy, dandy and fine.
Ed Miliband on Mandelson’s memoirs: the book should ‘close chapter’ on New Labour. At least Ed doesn’t mix his metaphors. And he’s right that, “we need to move on as a political party from the culture, methods and ways of that New Labour establishment.” But move on to where? Oh, I get it, some trips to a fancy advertising agency to draw up some jazzy posters and a trendy sounding title. ‘Newer Lab’uh’ anyone?

Mandelson prides himself on being a gay mentor...

Well, according to the old definition of ‘gay’, as being happy and funny, I have to say that I laughed my head off looking at this TV advert. I thought it was a satire – until I realised – the Dickensian setting of the crackling fireplace and the lightning sounding in the background were all for commercial effect. The book may look as entertaining as a panto, but isn’t it ironic that Mandy, who has trampled on British cultural goodness, relies on the traditional home-in-front-of-the-fire–with-my-dressing-gown-on to sell his seedy memoirs?




Wednesday, 14 July 2010

‘Guidelines’ aborted in the north! Cheers!

The abortion ‘guidelines’ have been officially dropped by the health department in the north of Ireland. Together the ‘guidelines’ form a document that could potentially have been used to legalize abortion through the back door, and in doing so legalize abortion in the land mass of Ireland. These ‘guidelines’ were re-introduced in February, but just two days ago Jim Wells, Chairman of the Health Committee received a letter declaring the withdrawal of these interim guidelines that allow for ‘legal’ abortion in certain cases. Instead, there will be a public consultation launched. Public consultation? Precisely, what is this? One hopes this public ‘consultation’ will be respectful of Northern Ireland’s very pro-life public.

In the wake of this great news, Liam Gibson, of SPUC Northern Ireland commented that;
"We are very pleased that the health minister has withdrawn the interim guidance. This was the aim of the SPUC's application for a judicial review, due to be heard in September. The health minister has done the sensible thing by withdrawing the guidance. Otherwise he would have been ordered by the courts for a second time to withdraw it.”

This marvellous development has come just days after the magnificent Rally for Life in Belfast.
Fr. Finigan reported on the rally here

PS – Granted this post is about pro-life matters, and mentions some pro-life organisations by name; I would ask that ‘some’ do not waste their time writing to me with their insensitive opinions on pro-life groups and about pro-life individuals. We all have our faults – including those involved intimately in pro-life struggles – but I am not going to facilitate mudslinging from pro-lifer to pro-lifer on this, my personal blog. ‘Nuff said! Now, I’m raising a glass to celebrate! Cheers to everyone on the pro-life side!

Monday, 12 July 2010

The importance of a mother's role

‘After a 10 year immersion in thousands of scientific papers in neurobiology, psychology and infant development, Dr Alan Schore (Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA) concluded that the child’s first relationship, [usually] the one with the mother, acts as a template [and]….permanently moulds the individual’s capacity to enter into all later emotional relationships.’
Gasp. Wow. I found that research nugget when I was trawling through the Centre for Social Justice Website. It’s a scary but awesome finding that the mother has a ‘permanent’ influence on her child, and that ‘all later emotional relationship’ are modelled on the primary connection that a child had with his/her mum. My final comment would be that this research certainly begs the question as to why my generation of women and the previous generations since the 60s have been told that motherhood is a phase in their lives and above all else if you are a woman, you cannot and should not give motherhood time and energy. This is an insult to the value of mothering; the period of time that a mother gives intensive care may be relatively short compared with how long the influence of that care will last. And true to this research, it lasts a minimum of a lifetime.   
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