Showing posts from 2011

I’ve had the loveliest Christmas…

I felt called to stay in London for Christmas and I’ve been enjoying the festivities with my housemates who are Indian and Latin American and very far from home. London is transformed at Christmas – the usually colourful city fades and is replaced by a Victorian ghost town. The streets are no longer teeming with seas of people; the frazzled business men and tourists have vanished. The streets are so empty that you can see the pavement stretch out before you and there’s that strange sound of silence. Kensington becomes like an abandoned film set that was once used for some period drama like Howard’s End or Upstairs Downstairs. The shadowy houses have a look of broken light bulbs and there is not one wreath or Christmas tree in sight. During the week from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day, you can hear birdsong and the wind blowing old newspapers down streets in this international city. It verily is like time has stood still and stopped. Time will begin again in early January. I think.  B…

For Unto Us a Child is Born - Handel Messiah - Mormon Tabernacle Choir


Vatican's 10 top stories of 2011 - in under 4 minutes

#8 The Pope's Visit to Africa, where he is greeted by hordes of young people singing and dancing to welcome him. Interesting that the secularist groups that wage a hate-campaign against the Pope and who wrongly blame him for the spread of Aids in Africa - do not recognise or acknowledge how the African people honoured him.
#2 It's quite touching to hear Pope Benedict speak German in his soft Bavarian accent to the politicians of his home country.

Let's take the road before us and sing a chorus or two...


Padre Pio’s favourite painting of Our Lady: its Christmas significance

This depiction of Our Lady of Grace is painted on the wall and ceiling behind the altar in the church of San Giovanni Rotondo, where Padre Pio had his ministry. In the painting, Baby Jesus is reaching for his mother’s milk, which represents grace. We are also the children of Mary, and may partake of this grace.
At Christmas, the very centre of our celebration is that the Virgin Mary gave birth to Christ who is God and therefore the creator of all graces. The Blessed Mother is the Mediatrix of all graces, since Baby Jesus grew in her womb, and was nurtured from her milk and loved by her embraces: all of this is portrayed in Padre Pio’s favourite painting.
In the majority of crib scenes we do not see Our Lady or Baby Jesus wearing crowns. At the time, such honours of regal coronets had not been bestowed on the child in the manger and his humble mother. But in Padre Pio’s favourite painting, Our Lady wears the golden crown signifying that she is queen and Baby Jesus wears a smalle…

The poisoned friendship of St Thomas Becket and Henry II, as portrayed in the film Becket

The film Becket has its flaws; not least the fact that the title leaves out the word 'saint', meaning that someone could think that the film was about the Irish playwright Beckett. The film places a lot of emphasis on King Henry and Becket's reputations as being wild lads who seduced simple barely-able-to-speak peasant girls.
But the triumph of the film is its colourful portrayal of Henry II's persecution of his dear friend St Thomas Becket. Peter O'Toole in his role as Henry II is the eyes-darting, much-younger-than-Becket king who resents that Becket's vocation to the priesthood has distracted him from being his close pal, and that Becket's allegiance to the Church comes first. At times it's as though Henry II wanted the Church to serve him, rather than he serve the Church. Henry II has other reasons to be jealous - he shakes with anxious envy when he hears accounts of Becket's charisma and his ability to effortlessly draw adoring crowds and co…

Although it's been said many times, many ways...


Of all the soaps in all of London… St Anthony found this one for me…

St Anthony found soap for me? You must think that I’ve lost it. You might think that I’m a Sense and Sensibility short of a whole set of Jane Austen novels. First St Anthony finds me tea during the holiday season and now soap?  But bear with me, while I explain this astounding chain of events. Looking for Christmas presents and shopping for treats for my godchild  - is my excuse and pretext for going into TK Maxx on Kensington High Street. And TK Maxx is always full of manic shoppers who bruise each other as five of them frantically root in bargain bins, rifle through shelves and scour rail after rail of designer polyester. Then there’s the toiletry department where you can buy Armani perfume, and smell the same as though you had paid a fortune in Knightsbridge Armani central. The heavy-lidded sales assisstants stagger under the piles of clothes that they dump onto plastic shelves. They may get good peace-keeping training when they beg the customers not to gouge each other’s eyes out …

Pavarotti - Adeste Fideles

I think that I prefer the Pavarotti version to the Andrea Bocelli one. Which do you prefer?

Andrea Bocelli - Adeste Fideles


Have you met 10 Amazing Catholics of 2011?

1. Shahbaz Bhatti

On March 2 masked men sprayed Shahbaz Bhatti’s car with bullets as he left his mother’s home. Shahbaz, a brilliant lawyer and the only Christian Minister in the country’s government, was murdered for opposing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. David Cameron called his assassination “absolutely brutal and unacceptable”.

In his role as Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz frequently criticised the abuse of the blasphemy laws, saying they were used as a pretext to persecute innocent Christians. He knew that he was endangering his own life by speaking out. Pakistani law can impose execution or life imprisonment for offences against Islam. Shahbaz had received death threats since 2009. He predicted his death in a video, in which he said bravely: “I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us… I’m living for my community… and I will die to defend their rights.”

In August 2009, after reports of a Koran being desecrated in the Punjab province, anti-Christian mobs …

The Clancy Bros at Christmas

Mulier Fortis could swing her cats to this. And Rocco Palmo could practise his Irish language skills; Rocco is quite the fan of the Irish language.

Happy Christmas - Nollaig Shona daoibhse

'Nollaig Shona daoibhse' - Happy Christmas to you all!

May the Divine Son and the Blessed Virgin Mary pour upon you the richest Christmas blessings and joy. May you have fun, fine wine and good cheer.

I pulled a Christmas cracker at lunch and got the joke; 'what do you call a train full of professors? A tube of smarties.'

When you rejoice in the birth of the Christ Child, please pray for this fighting-for-his-life six inch baby

I promised an update on the Catholic lady – a good friend of a journalism colleague – who had been planning to have an abortion after learning of her surprise pregnancy.  Let’s call the lady ‘S’. ‘S’’s situation is so ambiguous that I was never sure that I could write ‘she has not had an abortion’ – for fear that she would have 'the procudure' while I was typing.  ‘S’ is still pregnant, but has not decided against abortion.  ‘S’ was in blind panic and had been going to have an abortion as soon as she could lift the phone to arrange an appointment, spring to the clinic with her NHS number handy and later go to confession ‘to make it all alright’. But between her hysteria at learning of her unexpected pregnancy and today Christmas Eve – it’s almost as if she has ‘forgotten’ that she’s pregnant. Her housemates do not know that she is pregnant and her employer is oblivious to the fact that if she keeps the baby, that she may not show up for work on the day of delivery, sometime in…

The forbidden word...

Courtesy of The Daily Telegraph, I learned that Members of the US House of Representatives have been banned from using ‘Merry Christmas’ when they address their constituents. They may only use the ‘have a safe holiday’ type of bland, trite greetings that could possibly have the word ‘merry’ as in ‘Merry Holidays’, but certainly not…dare I type it…’Christmas’. The ruling does not prevent congressmen from using greetings per se – just greetings that mention Christ.
What would the punishment be for a member of the US House of Representatives if they did use the forbidden word? Would it be too unlike the cartoon above depicting children getting into trouble for cursing obscenities? The irony is that while the word ‘Christmas’ may not be used by the members of the House of Representatives in their official mail, for fear they insult a party who do not believe in Christmas, it actually offends the silent majority of Christians who may be affronted that the name for the-time-when-we-celebrat…

Santa's Identity Crisis


Have yourself a merry little Christmas...

A 21 year-old Judy Garland stars in Meet me in St Louis. Margaret O'Brien who plays Tootie won an Oscar for her portrayal of the child who is heartbroken that they are leaving St Louis, and who declares; "I'm taking all my dolls, the dead ones too!"

From Padre Pio's handwritten diary - Jesus's newborn cries were "the first ransom for our redemption"

"Far into the night, at the coldest time of the year, in a chilly grotto, more suitable for a flock of beasts than for humans, the promised Messiah – Jesus – the savior of mankind, comes into the world in the fullness of time.  There are none who clamor around him: only an ox and an ass lending their warmth to the newborn infant; with a humble woman, and a poor and tired man, in adoration beside him.

Nothing can be heard except the sobs and whimpers of the infant God. And by means of his crying and weeping he offers to the Divine justice the first ransom for our redemption. He had been expected for forty centuries; with longing sighs the ancient Fathers had implored his arrival. The sacred scriptures clearly prophesy the time and the place of his birth, and yet the world is silent and no one seems aware of the great event. Only some shepherds, who had been busy watching over their sheep in the meadows, come to visit him. Heavenly visitors had alerted them to the wondrous event, i…

Christmas blog make-over. Envy of Mr Frost's web design.

May I ask what you think of the new Christmas template that I've just added? The majority of the templates that I've seen are like children's wrapping paper from 1980. I picked this one because it had holly and a good dusting of gold (one of the gifts brought to the Christ Child by The Three Kings). Not to mention its green colour scheme that symbolises Irishness; quite important for a mick-chick like me.

In the coming days The Kitsch Police may have grounds to arrest me - I'm taking a shine to those winking  Merry Christmas blog signs, I'm an inch away from posting Wham's Last Christmas and Judy Garland's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  

Ah, I admit it: Jack Frost's website will always be the best.

The holly and the ivy...


For the love of dogs…