Sunday 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas

On Christmas Eve, we will place ourselves once again before the Crib to contemplate, astonished, the "Word made flesh." Sentiments of joy and gratitude, like in every year, are renewed in our hearts as we hear the melodies of Christmas carols, which sing of, in so many languages, the same, extraordinary miracle. The Creator of the universe, out of love, came to make his dwelling among men. In the Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul affirms that Christ, "though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men" (2:6). He appeared in human form, adds the Apostle, humbling himself. At holy Christmas we will relive the realization of this sublime mystery of grace and mercy.

Pope Benedict XVI 21.12.06

Those were the days!

Merry Christmas to anyone out there still reading this!

Tuesday 6 December 2016

The Immaculate Conception

Mass as usual at 12 on Thursday and also Extraordinary Form Missa Cantata at 7pm with music by the Westland Singers. Rigidity checks will be available for the young.

Saturday 3 December 2016

Silence (and Manners in Church)

Silence seems to be all the rage at the minute, what with Pope Francis` silence in the face of a request from the four cardinals for clarification. Hitherto he hasn`t been noted for silence. The papal reflection on November 23rd strangely, in discussing the works of mercy, spoke of the importance of resolving doubts! Also there was a premier in the Vatican of the new film Silence based on the novel by Shūsaku Endo ( the `Japanese Graham Greene)` which I have long found thought-provoking in telling the story of Jesuit missionaries in Japan who abandoned their faith rather than accept a martyrdom which would also have meant death for many of their converts.

However,continuing on the theme of silence the liturgy Commission of England and Wales brought out a document on the place of silence in the Mass. They only discuss the Ordinary Form. The problem is that in the OF silence can only happen as a pause which is rather unsatisfactory as no-one knows how long the pause will be and so cannot be entered in to as there is no telling when the celebrant will move on. They talk about the silence of the congregation during the readings, offertory and Eucharistic prayer but there isn`t silence in church at these points as someone is reading aloud. It is one of the great strengths of the EF Mass that it affords time for silent prayer by the congregation especially at a Low Mass during the offertory and canon. Nevertheless I thought it was interesting that the topic was being explored and towards the end there is a useful section on the importance of silence before Mass which is becoming very hard to find. Strangely we`ve not received any notice of this document in the diocese unlike Cardinal Nichol`s opinion on Cardinal Sarah`s call to say Mass ad orientem which we received very quickly.

Just before devotees of the EF Mass start feeling smug about all this I came across this useful film. Embedding is disabled  but do look at this link.

Sunday 20 November 2016

Youth Sunday

I must say I don`t normally make much of a fuss about Youth Sunday aka the Feast of Christ the King. However at the Extraordinary Form Mass this morning I mentioned it to highlight that we have a good number of youth who come each week. They have never struck me as rigid or hiding something. Where I do find an annoying rigidity is among those who are rigid in their refusal to see anything good about the EF. We have to put up with a lot of stick at this end of things such as visiting priests who think it so clever or amusing, when they preach or make an appeal, to say the first couple of sentences of their sermon in Latin. Or are quite happy to make an appeal but then, I hear, actively dissuade people from attending the EF. The arrogance astounds me as well as just the lack of respect and straightforward courtesy. Or those who throw their hands up in horror at the mention of the EF Mass as being completely beyond the pale and not to be taken seriously in the life of the diocese and at best to be tolerated and certainly not encouraged. The letter to the bishops accompanying  Summorum Pontificum said, lest we forget: What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.. 

Those who throw a stone at young Latin Mass enthusiasts should think first about themselves and in what matters they may be unacceptably rigid before doing so.

Friday 18 November 2016

Four Cardinals and a Pope


The situation with the four cardinals who sought and failed to get clarification from the pope on Amoris Laetitia is a fascinating one. For those not aware of what has been going on there is a summary here.

What interests me is what kind of canonical procedure the four plan to use for their formal correction of the pope. I don`t have any doubts about Cardinal Burke`s vast canonical expertise but all I can get as far as is canon 1404 Prima sedes a nemine judicetur ( The First See is  judged by no-one). Yet Cardinal Burke says there is a procedure for correcting a pope so I look forward to finding out what it is and how it works. Apart from St Paul challenging St Peter at Antioch all that comes to mind is the posthumous trial of Pope Formosus  (Pope Beautiful!) in 897.I wonder what precedents Cardinal Burke has in mind? Interesting times indeed.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Young People at Una Voce Scotland's Annual Requiem Mass -

In the light of the Holy Father`s recent comments about there being something suspicious about young people who attend the Extraordinary Form, here`s a few of them speaking about it last Saturday at Una Voce Scotland`s annual Requiem.

Saturday 12 November 2016

As You Like It

It would be interesting to ask young Catholics how they respond to these videos.

Thursday 22 September 2016

Education, education, education

I was interested to read that the teaching of Latin and classics is being proposed for state primaries by Professor Dennis Hayes, from the University of Derby. The article is here. Here is a flavour:

“As a minimum Latin and classics should be taught in every primary school and continued into secondary school with the addition of ancient Greek,” said Hayes, adding that the subjects could be offered by state schools through the Classics for All programme or the use of retired Latin teachers.

He (Prof Hayes) said he wants to “start a debate” about his proposals in his home county of Derbyshire. It follows critical comments he made at the Commons education committee’s purpose of education conference last week.
"If you go to Derbyshire schools, the kids are basically not learning anything.
“There’s these lovely kids in Shirebrook for instance. They’re great kids, but they’re not being taught anything. They would love Latin.”

Hayes said the teachers in his teacher training session would “hate” the idea of a move to teach classics in all schools, because they “think the only thing you need is Google. They confuse information with knowledge”.

I have some experience of this in that I helped with a Minimus course at St Mary`s. Forest Hall back in 2008. The children did respond well. The picture is of our main helper who made herself a Minimus costume. (Minimus is a Latin course for primary school children and is based on the life of a mouse (Minimus) on Hadrian`s Wall.)

I imagine this will go down like a lead balloon but I`m glad it`s even being raised

One of the benefits of studying classics is gaining an understanding of the world that Christianity entered and it helps us to appreciate the difference Christianity made to our Western world.Of course Gibbon said that the spread of Christianity had undermined the Roman spirit and led to the empire`s fall, despite the eastern empire lasting in continuity until 1453. More useful have been the recent comments of classical historian Tom Holland in the New Statesman. His article Why I was wrong about Christianity is well worth a read. It recounts his early aversion to Christianity and his gradual realisation that the values we take for granted as the hallmark of a civilised society are not as obvious to good people as we may think. He writes:

The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it. The values of Leonidas, whose people had practised a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics, and trained their young to kill uppity Untermenschen by night, were nothing that I recognised as my own; nor were those of Caesar, who was reported to have killed a million Gauls and enslaved a million more. It was not just the extremes of callousness that I came to find shocking, but the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have any intrinsic value. As such, the founding conviction of the Enlightenment – that it owed nothing to the faith into which most of its greatest figures had been born – increasingly came to seem to me unsustainable.

A follow-up Spectator article (Western values are more Christian than classical) makes the following point:

Agnostics are generally reluctant to admit the debt that Western morality owes to Christianity. Why? Because it makes them dependent on something that they are not comfortable with, that they enjoy disdaining. Since childhood they have confidently assumed that religion is nonsense – it is awkward to admit that one form of this ‘nonsense’ underlies their most basic moral responses. Easier to pretend that universal humanism just comes naturally – evolves maybe? Holland is contributing to an important ‘back to basics’ mood: an urge to reflect on the roots of Western values – even if they’re embarrassingly religious.
  I don`t suppose much will come of this but maybe one day!

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Fr Jacques Hamel

Tomorrow the Pope will celebrate Mass for Fr Jacques Hamel. Today I recived a reply from Fr Moanda of St Etienne du Rouvray thanking us for the book or remembrance we sent from St Joseph`s, Gateshead. ( Gateshead being twinned with St Etienne du Rouvray.)

Monday 12 September 2016

Brinkburn 2016: 2

Despite the short notice there were about 50 at Brinkburn for Mass on Saturday. The sun shone for us as it has for the last twnety-two years. Fr Bede spoke about St Nicholas of Tolentino. Thanks to the servers and singers. Next year the priory is booked for Mass on September 9th and the local choir Antiphon have agreed to sing a polyphonic Mass setting. Here are some photos of this year`s Mass.

 A highlight of the day was this sweatshirt!

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Brinkburn 2016

Although the priory was booked last year for this year it has proved impossible to secure the services of choir to sing a polyphonic setting of the ordinary of the Mass but I`m making inquiries for next year now to make sure things will be in place in 2017. However the day has been saved by a small group of singers who will sing the propers and a plainchant ordinary. I`m grateful to David Edwards for stepping in! So this year`s Solemn High Mass will take place on Saturday 10th September at 12 noon. All welcome. The sun normally shines for us so do come for Mass in this fantastic setting.

The Mass will be for  the Feast of St NIcholas of Tolentino. Fr Bede Rowe, who will be celebrant,  has written about the Septenarium devotion to this Saint which readers may find interesting.

Brinkburn 2015

Friday 29 July 2016

Fr. Jacques Hamel

From our diocesan website:
The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle was saddened to hear of the death in tragic circumstances of Fr. Jacques Hamel in the town of St. Etienne-du-Rouvray in France yesterday. He was 86 years old.
The town is twinned with Gateshead and St. Joseph's Church will have a book of condolence available from 11.00am on Friday and over the weekend.

Please pray for the repose of his soul and keep his family also in your prayers. May he rest in peace.
For more information about Fr. Hamel and other parishes that are celebrating Mass for him, please read here.

Thursday 21 July 2016

Saturday 9 July 2016

Fr James Mawdsley at St Joseph`s

Fr James Mawdsley and his brother on his ordination day

Congratulations to Fr James Mawdsley on his ordination to the priesthood on July 2nd for the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter. Father is going around the country on a First Mass tour and is coming to St Joseph`s, Gateshead on Wednesday 13th July for a Solemn High Mass at 7pm. Music by the Westland Singers. All welcome. Refreshments afterwards. Ad Mulos Annos!

Monday 13 June 2016

What`s happening in East Anglia?

A parishioner came back from a pilgrimage to Walsingham and brought with him a copy of the new Alive in Faith newsletter produced by the diocese of East Anglia. There I read that 12 years ago there were no students in formation for East Anglia. Now we have 10, plus 10 `nibblers` who are considering joining the priesthood. Looking at the Alive in Faith website maybe gives a clue to this success. It lists priorities thus:


Alive in Faith supports our vision for the future our Diocese which is to have:
† Seminarians who are well formed, and clergy who are supported when they step down from active ministry
† Strong and vibrant parishes that are addressing local needs
† Programmes of outreach to help those who are most vulnerable in our communities

So good news from East Anglia and I hope they can give useful advice to dioceses not doing so well. It gives the lie to those who foresee  the future as being a Church without priests.

Monday 23 May 2016

A Day in the Life of an Oratorian Novice

For anyone wondering what this Oratory thing is all about this video made by the novices of the Brisbane Oratory in Formation may be of interest!

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Corpus Christi

There will be a Solemn High Mass with procession and Benediction for Corpus Christi again this year at St Joseph`s on Thursday 26th May at 7pm. Refreshments afterwards. Music by the Westland Singers. The celebrant once again will be Fr Bede Rowe.

Saturday 7 May 2016

And yet another Oratory.

No sooner do I mention it and another appears! From the website of the Sacred Heart, Bournemouth.

Sacred Heart, Bournemouth

A    new    Oratory    in    formation    is    being    inaugurated    at    Sacred    Heart    Church    in    Bournemouth    on    September    8    2016.            Bishop    Philip    Egan    of    Portsmouth    has    invited    Fr    Dominic    Jacob    CO    (co-founder    of    the    Oxford    Oratory)    and    Fr    Peter    Edwards    and    Fr    David    Hutton,    generously    released    by    the    Archbishop    of    Southwark    for    this    project    in    his    Province,    to    begin    an    Oratorian    Community    of    St    Philip    Neri    as    part    of    a    major    evangelisation    drive.            Fr    Peter,    Fr    Dominic    and    Fr    David    will    begin    their    ministry    on    the    feast    of    Our    Lady’s    Birthday,    at    the    church    which    is    situated    in    the    heart    of    Bournemouth,    surrounded    by    university    accommodation,    many    language    school    students,    diverse    ethnic    communities,    and    homelessness,    beside    long-standing    residents,    the    hospitality    industry,    business    and    commerce.            In    accordance    with    the    charism    of    their    Patron,    St    Philip    Neri,    the    Oratory    in    formation    will    be    devoted    to    offering    sacramental    support    through    daily    Mass    and    Confessions,    Eucharistic    Adoration    and    formation    in    the    spiritual    life,    alongside    pastoral    care    of    students,    the    growing    number    of    homeless,    others    in    need,    all    who    make    up    the    local    population,    and    the    thousands    who    pass    the    doors    of    Sacred    Heart    each    day.       

Following    the    announcement,    Bishop    Philip    Egan    of    Portsmouth    said:    “The    Diocese    has    areas    of    real    deprivation    and    poverty.    There    are    immigrants    and    foreign    nationals    from    Eastern    Europe    and    overseas,    as    well    as    university    and    college    students    away    from    home.        This    is    a    pastoral    situation    that    is    urgent.    It    impels    action.            “We    need    to    engage    with    those    who    have    not    yet    met    the    Lord    Jesus    in    Person    nor    taken    to    heart    the    salvation    and    eternal    life    He    offers.    More    than    ever    we    need    today    to    be    confident    and    clear    in    witnessing    to    the    Person    of    Jesus    Christ    and    the    truths    of    the    Catholic    faith,    in    order    to    help    people    find    the    Way    to    authentic    humanism    and    happiness.    This    is    why    I    am    delighted    by    the    new    project    beginning    at    Sacred    Heart    parish.”            St    Philip    Neri,    Apostle    of    Rome    and    Saint    of    Joy,    continues    to    inspire    secular    priests    today    to    form    communities,    without    vows,    living    together    in    the    bond    of    charity,    with    the    Oratorian    charism    of    prayer,    preaching    and    celebration    of    the    Sacraments,    not    least    in    the    Confessional.  

St    Philip’s    primary    apostolate    of    forming    young    people    in    the    life    of    prayer    and    pastoral    care,    particularly    for    the    sick    and    needy,    also    attracts    many    by    excellence    in    liturgy    and    music,    through    catechesis,    and    in    the    New    Evangelization    through    culture    and    the    arts.            This    latest    Community    of    St    Philip    Neri    is    a    Society    of    Apostolic    Life    under    the    direction    of    the    Oratorian    Confederation’s    Procurator    General    in    Rome    for    whom    the    Oxford    Oratory    and    York    Oratory-in-Formation have been the formative inspiration.

Friday 6 May 2016

Oratory Explosion

Cardiff Oratory in formation.
At the minute there is a lot of soul-searching in Hexham and Newcastle. We are well into the three year programme `Forward Together in Hope`. This has involved parish meetings to respond to a big questionnaire about what goes on in the parish and what our hopes for the future are.We attend deanery meetings at which we are asked `What is the Church for?` I thought that had been worked out by Christ and the apostles but, while I suppose it is useful to ask if only to remind ourselves, it does suggest that the `Forward` bit of FTIH doesn`t really know where the it is going. Then we have the deanery meetings of clergy where we spend hours mulling over `What is confirmation for?`The last discussion was drawn to a close after nearly two hours so we have to meet again to continue mulling. I have developed an inability to listen to the word `community` as it gets mentioned sometimes in every sentence.

In the meantime decline goes on.

Not everywhere however. Today on Facebook I came across something I`d not seen: a page on the Oratory in Formation in Cardiff. This was the first I`d heard of it. So in recent years the two original houses of the Oratory in London and Birmingham have been joined by new houses in Oxford, Manchester and York and now Cardiff. This is quite amazing growth at a time when most the time all we hear from the Catholic Church in England and Wales is about places closing down. So we don`t have to be in decline. Vocations are there. The FSSP draws many inquirers and I imagine the Institute of Christ the King does too,  yet I don`t bother mentioning this in the deanery meetings as people wouldn`t be interested. Lancaster, Middlesborough, Salford, Liverpool and Shrewsbury now all have either an Oratory or the house of an Ecclesia Dei institute and the new bishop of Leeds is said to want to create a centre in his diocese for the Extraordinary Form. Hexham and Newcastle is looking like the odd man out in the Northern Province.

This is from the Archdiocese of Cardiff website.

Oratory of St Philip Neri in formation in Cardiff

On 11th February 2016 The Archbishop of Cardiff, Most Rev George Stack, gave his permission for the establishment of an Oratory of St Philip Neri at the University Chaplaincy, Cardiff. This ‘community in formation’ was established by decree on 22nd March 2016 of Fr. Mario Aviles, Procurator General of the Confederation of the Oratories, Rome. Fr. Ignatius Harrison was appointed Delegate to the community in Cardiff. Fr. Sebastian (Gareth) Jones was appointed Moderator of the community in formation.
On Friday 29th April, Fr. Ignatius Harrison visited Newman Hall and the University Church to formally cloth Fr. Sebastian and Bro Ambrose Jackson establishing this new community of ‘Oratorians’.  The Congregation of St. Philip Neri is Pontifical Society of Apostolic Life.  It is made up of priests and lay brothers who live in community in a bond of charity, with no formal religious vows. Although some oratories may have a dominant mission, such as maintaining a school, in general the members of the Oratory spend the day involved in various ministries: teaching, parish work, spiritual direction, campus ministry, hospital chaplaincies, administration or maintaining the fabric of the community house. 
In order for the Cardiff Oratory to be formally founded, the community will need to increase to four members comprising two priests and two brothers.  Fr. Sebastian will continue his work as Chaplain to Cardiff University.
More information about the Cardiff Oratory information can be found here.  We wish the new community well as they start out within the Welsh Province.

Thursday 5 May 2016

The appointment of priests can be a difficult business

Bishop Prasad Gallela

Priests are sometimes disappointed in their appointments. Some, it seems, can be so disappointed they kidnap the bishop. This story popped up recently from India. This was their fifth attempt to kidnap him. More here.

MUMBAI – Police in India on Monday arrested 14 people for the kidnapping and beating of a Catholic bishop on April 25, including three of the bishop’s own priests, at least one of whom is believed to have been upset that he was recently denied a requested position in the diocese.

The main culprit charged in the arrest is Father Raja Reddy from Jammalamadugu, located in the diocese of Cuddapah in southern India, which is led by Bishop Prasad Gallela, 54, who is currently recovering from injuries sustained in the kidnapping.

Sources told Crux that Raja Reddy had requested the position of “procurator” in the diocese, which would have allowed him to exercise certain powers in the name of the bishop, but was turned down.Gallela and his driver were kidnapped on April 25 at a village called Nagasanepalle by a group of persons who showered blows on him, blindfolded and tied him up, and took him to an undisclosed place and demanded a ransom of roughly $75,000.

Major breakthrough:Kadapa SP Navin Gulati presenting the arrested persons before the media in Kadapa on Monday. Presumably the guilty priests are among the hooded men.

Sunday 3 April 2016

A useful resource.

Just about three pages to go to finish Unfaithful Music. It seems to have taken forever but it is 670 pages long and theres quite a lot about American musicians I`ve never heard of which was hard going. It has yielded a few more Catholic bits and pieces but the most useful came with his mention of his baptism (p.83) which he says was in church of the Holy Cross in Birkenhead. he adds:
The church then was a brand-new building of a modern design. Today it`s defunct and sits behind a roll shutter to deter vandals. The priests have all left town.

So I googled Holy Cross Birkenhead and found a link on the Taking Stock website which was hitherto unknown to me. Holy Cross Birkenhead is indeed an exciting modern design. How sad it is now redundant.
Holy Cross Birkenhead
However there are still priests in Birkenhead one of whom I see is a contemporary of mine in canon law at the Greg, Fr Nick Kern. Nevertheless the Taking Stock website was well worth finding as it lists every Catholic church in England and Wales with pictures and a description. There are quite a few churches in this diocese I`ve never been in so I enjoyed looking them up.

Unfaithful Music was most interesting in its telling the story of EC`s relationship with his father and the account of his father`s death was very moving. Also there were insights into some of his lyrics I`ve never understood.

Now on to Mgr McReavy and Vatican II. I`ve looked at the introduction and learning that Vatican II was the most important event in the church since 1054 made me think this might not be the book for me but my good friend Fr Cooper tells me that it is unputdownable once you get started so I look forward to it. I hope I`ll understand better what it was all about....

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Feast of St Joseph

On Saturday we will be celebrating our patronal festival with a Solemn High Mass at 11am. Music by the Rudgate Singers. They are singing the ordinary to a setting by Grossi, a name unfamiliar to me but I imagine this may be him. Shared table afterwards in the Ingram Hall.

Sunday 6 March 2016

Bede`s World: update

Good news a few days ago: Bede`s World has been rescued. Read about it here For more on the threat to nothern museums and how it`s easier to move everything to London see here.

Thursday 3 March 2016

Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink: Is there a lot of this going on?

A few years ago I was somewhat taken aback when a friend told me that when she a schoolgirl they were taken regularly to confession and she couldn`t think of anything to confess so made up a list of sins and always added at the end `And I`ve told lies` to cover herself. Personally I`ve never had this problem. However I was watching Adrian Chiles recent programme, an exploration of Mediterranean religions, and was interested when he started with his atheist Croatian mother who had become an atheist as a child because she hated going to confession when she had nothing she could think of to confess. `Interesting`, I thought. Then this year I have started reading Elvis Costello`s new autobiography. From the time I set eyes on the LP cover of his first album. My Aim Is True, at a student party on South Street at St Andrews in 1979, I was intrigued at a figue that looked like a cross between Buddy Holly and Woody Allen, called himself Elvis and was steeped in the tradition of the genre and yet was something new.

Then I found the music captivating with its angry songs of guilt and revenge, mixed in with Catholic imagery but balanced by the sadness of the ballad `Alison`. There are about nine of his albums which I enjoy (which is far more than for any other singer).  So far in his autobiography he has mentioned his Catholic upbringing a number of times including the satisfying nugget that his father used to take him to a Latin Mass when it was generally being abandoned. He makes a reference to being an altar server (pouring wine over the priest`s fingers) but when it comes to confession as a child he says he couldn`t think of anything he had done wrong so looking at the commandments chose a couple to have something to say: committing adultery and added coveting his neighbour`s ox "to be on the safe side" (p.58).The priest he says `gently set me straight on the possible sins of a child and then gave me a penance of three Our Fathers and five Hail Marys for telling lies" He adds: " I`ve spoken with several Catholic friends who made the same idiotic, forced confession rather than claim their little souls were spotless"

All this makes me wonder whether this still goes on with first confessions? In my twenty-six years as a priest I`ve never heard any child make a confession like Costello`s and they all seeem to have been sincere but next time I`ll be more aware of this. Maybe Pius X`s move wasn`t that great if we ask for confession before first Holy Communion for children when it is the only time the Church requires confession for non-mortal sins before receiving Communion. I`ve no idea what the answer is. 

I enjoy reading and was reminded recently by abbot Cuthbert that I promised to read his book on Mgr McReavy and Vatican II. I got my copy yesterday and have started and will report in due course!

Friday 26 February 2016

Derwentwater Mass

All went well on Wednesday night with a good turnout of 60-80 people. It was quite something to hear a parish choir singing a five-part Requiem.Dr Leo Gooch gave a summary of the life and times of the earl before Mass. I only spotted four white roses of the Northumbrian Jacobites! However it was a great occasion and many thanks to Fr Warren for hosting the event.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

The 300th anniversary: James Radcliffe.

From an old Roman Catholic family, with their seat at Dilston, Hexham in Northumberland, James Radcliffe was the eldest son of Lady Mary Tudor, an illegitimate daughter of Charles ll, and Edward Radcliffe, 2nd Earl of Derwentwater. At the age of thirteen he was sent to Saint-Germain at the request of Queen Mary, widow of James ll, to be a companion for the young Prince James Francis Edward.
Here he was tutored at the Jesuit College of St Louis le Grand in Paris. Inheriting the Derwentwater Estates in 1705, he returned to England four years later and took up residence at Dilston, becoming a prominent figure in Northern society and a focus for Jacobite support. He was noted for being a man of great charm and kindness, and was highly thought of by friends and tenants alike. In 1712 he married Anna Maria Webb, a Catholic heiress, and left Dilston for a period of two years to live at Hatherop in Gloucestershire, a property belonging to the family of his wife. During this time, the old manor house of the Radcliffes was being rebuilt and transformed into Dilston Hall, a grand and stately mansion, more befitting the needs of the fashionable young Earl.
Returning here with his wife and baby son in July 1714, it was only one month before Queen Anne was dead and George of Hanover was established on the English throne. Jacobite unrest broke out and gradually became widespread. By the following year plans to restore the exiled Stuarts by force of arms were well underway. The Earl was a key player in the 1715 Rising in which he took an active part.
After surrendering at Preston, he was attainted and condemned to death. Attempts to win a reprieve were in vain and he was beheaded on Tower Hill on 24 February 1716. His remains were secretly conveyed north for burial in Dilston Chapel. As the cortège bearing his coffin reached the outskirts of Durham City, the skies were spectacularly lit up by a brilliant display of the aurora borealis (the Northern Lights).
It was immediately rumoured that this was an omen of heaven's wrath at the death of the gentle and popular Earl. The lights were afterwards known in the north of England as 'Lord Derwentwater's Lights'. With this superstition the Derwentwater legend was born, and the dramatic and tragic events of the Earl's short life were soon firmly entrenched in Northumbrian folklore.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Arcady: February 18th 1996-February 23rd 2016

20th Birthday celebration
Sad to say, my oldest cat, Arcady died this morning. Last night I discovered all his legs were useless. I gave him water on a spoon and he gulped it down. Then this morning he wanted no more water but had a couple of slices of beef. I took him to the vet who said there was no hope and that pain, toxins and kidney trouble had got the better of him. So after saying goodbye I took him to the garden at St Wilfrid`s where he spent his first ten years and buried him with his brother, Mico, who was killed age 3 in 1999. He`s very much missed already.
On arrival at St Wilfrid`s

Thursday 18 February 2016

Solemn High Requiem

James Radcliffe
There will be a Solemn High Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form, to mark the 300th anniversary of the execution of James Radcliffe, third Earl of Derwentwater and a leader of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion for the restoration of the Stuart monarchy, at St Mary`s Catholic church, Hexham on Wednesday 24th February at 7pm. The choir will sing a five part Requiem by Morales. Dr Leo Gooch will give a short account of the life of the earl immediately before Mass  and it is hoped that members of the Radcliffe family will be in attendance. After Mass a wreath will be laid and a retiring collection will be taken for the restoration of `The Radcliffe Cross` in the forecourt.

Tea and biscuits will be served afterwards.

Wednesday 17 February 2016


Not canonical
Today I gave a talk to the priests and deacons of the southern end of the diocese about Mitis Judex as part of a study day on marriage. I mentioned that the world of canon law is asking one question at the minute: how do I get the Sussidio? ( Nothing to do with Phil Collins: that was sussudio)

Since the beginning of the month we have been told the Roman Rota has issued a 72 page Sussidio applicativo  giving insights into the correct application of Mitis Judex. It was said to have been sent to bishops ( for their new role as judges in the briefer annulment process?), it was said to be on sale in Rome but no-one could find it, there was no mention of it on the website of the Roman Rota. Then today as I finished speaking I couldn`t believe my eyes as our chancellor handed me a copy. I`m doing the same talk tomorrow for the northern end of the diocese but I doubt I`ll digest 72 pages of Italian by then!

Very canonical

Bede`s World

I know it`s hard to believe today but there was a time when Jarrow, under St Bede (672-735), was at the cutting edge of learning in theology, history and science. Jarrow hasn`t forgotten and in 1983 there was created a visitor attraction `Bede`s World` which celebrated the Christian and Benedictine heritage of the North East. School parties would go and dress as monks to learn about the life and see the recreation of a Saxon settlement and farm. Adjacent is the church of St Paul, attached to Bede`s monastery,  whose chancel dates to 681 and in which there are pieces of Saxon of stained glass.I had thought of organising a Latin Mass in the church as they seemed open to the idea). It offered an interesting introduction to the Catholic and Saxon heritage of the North East to its visitors. (However I could never understand why the otherwise faithful display of the monastic horarium made no mention of Mass.)
It was a good place to take visitors. 

Sadly on Friday last week it shut its doors. This was a surprise as it came without warning. A funding shortage was blamed. A campaign has begun to save it. I hope they succeed. Even Billy Bragg wants to save it.

The other Bragg, Melvyn,  has said;

 “What is totally depressing and gives no service at all to this generation and offers a bleak inheritance to the next generation and for generations to come is the regularity of hundreds of years with which London has kicked the North in the teeth.”

There`s a petition to sign too.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

More from Russia

This is an amazing new church built with the donations of the faithful, in Moscow. I can`t imagine the Catholic Church in England producing anything like this today.

It is the church of the Protection of the Mother of God at Yasenevo. There is more to read and see here. Amongst  Catholics, the nearest that comes close to this is the work of Duncan Stroik in the USA. I was particularly interested to read that this Russian church was based on the style of Sicilian cathedrals of the 12th century such as Monreale seen below, as it seems to offer a bridge between East and West.


I know Western church architecture has never stood still ( although the Gothic Revival opted for that direction) but we are all too often confronted with buildings that don`t even seem to try to raise the mind and heart to God.

Saturday 13 February 2016

Friday 12 February 2016

The Blog re-awakens

Well the days are getting longer, the sun has been seen for three consecutive days and so it is time to come out of hibernation. I had thought I`d not wake up until after the next conclave but there`s too much to do. So here we go.