Friday 4 December 2020

A new series


When the government originally said that parents would not have an 'opt out' option for their children with reference to the RSHE curriculum, I wanted to put together a clear and simple presentation of Catholic anthropology. A genuine vision of who the human person is, is the necessary foundation for everything that happens and is taught in a Catholic context, and it is the very thing that is lacking, in practice, at this time.
So, in March, at the start of lock-down, I began writing a series of texts which sought to delineate the basic truth about the human person. I am very grateful to Christine Ward who helped me with the starting point of this project. After I had written a number of texts it became clear to me that I wanted to write a presentation of what it means to live in Christ Jesus - all underpinned by this genuine vision of the human person.
To date I have written fifteen texts, each one is around two pages of texts, interspersed with carefully chosen photos, and each one finishing with a question designed to further engage the reader. I converted each text into a PDF and have emailed these to a whole raft of recipients.
These are the titles of the texts:

1.   What is a human being?

2.   How can we really understand who we are?

3.   Human nature and Christ Jesus.

4.   Human nature in the hands of Jesus Christ.

5.   Approaching the education of our children.

6.   Discerning the value of culture.

7.   Discerning the value of human nature.

8.   The spiritual life.

9.   The Life of the Church.

10.                 Human beings and virtue.

11.                 The formation of the will.

12.                 The moral life.

13.                 The Christian life and science.

14.                 The Christian life and the internet.

15.                 The Christian life and philosophy.

      16. Who is God? 
I am glad to have developed this form of presentation of the faith during lock-down. I have enjoyed writing them, and I hope that someone finds some value in them. Currently, I am writing the sixteenth text - which really should be no. 1.
I now intend to develop the series more, but will hold subsequent titles in abeyance for the time being, and then look to make them more widely available. 

Monday 31 August 2020

Remains of Parlington.

Our Catholic History Walk last Saturday went ahead, partly due to the lovely weather we had that morning. Our destination was the old estate of Parlington Hall, just to the south of Aberford. This house had been the seat of the Gascoigne family from the mid 1500s up to the beginning of the twentieth century. The Gasgoignes had moved here from their original house, the remains of which are in the grounds of Harewood House, north of Leeds. The family had been Catholic from the early days until 1780, when Thomas Gascoigne became and Anglican so that he could become an MP.

Parlington Hall was abandoned by the family at the start of the twentieth century and was finally demolished in the 1950s. The house had been remodelled in the 1700s, but there is no evidence now to give indications about is medieval origins. This photo shows the house as it was at the end of the nineteenth century. 

We all parked on the south end of Aberford village on the old Great North Road, close by the Gascoigne Almshouses.

These were built in 1844 by Elizabeth Gascoigne for two men and two women who had worked on the estate. They are now used as offices.
A little further up on the other side of the road is the former Catholic chapel of St Wilfred. This chapel was built by the Gascoigne for local Catholics in 1788, together with a presbytery. I think that it was served by priests from Ampleforth Abbey up until the 1980s when it was sold. It is now a private house.

We found the old main entrance to the Parlington Estate and walked up the lane. Here we caught a view to where the old house had stood.
And so we arrived at the famous and unique monumental arch. This was built by Thomas Gascoigne to celebrate the American victory in its War of Independence. The inscription reads: "Liberty in N America Triumphant 1783". There is no other monument to the American victory in this country. One day, the Prince Regent, who was coming to Parlington for lunch, stopped to view the arch and had his carriage turned round and drove off to find lunch elsewhere!

We walked back down Parlington Lane, crossed the Cock Beck and walked over to the site of Becca Banks. This Ancient Briton fortification, part of the extensive earthwork defences of the Kingdom of Elmet, was perhaps created to stop the Roman invaders. Perhaps its builders and defenders were not Catholics, but all of us we were interested to see it for the first time. It would have been more impressive to see without the tree cover.

Our next walk will be on the last Saturday in September, weather and virus protocols permitting. We have yet to decide upon a destination.

Saturday 15 August 2020

Catholic History Walk near Aberford.

Now that we are coming out of Lock-down we can look to take up where we left off in February. This next walk is at the end of the month, Saturday 29th August - unless it is pouring rain.
I'm calling this walk, "Remains of Parlington", the old estate of the Gasgoigne family close by Aberford. We can take in also the old, now disused, Catholic chapel at Aberford, the ancient earth works at Aberford and, depending on how we plan lunch, we could take in a visit to the old church in Barwick, where the medieval Gasgoignes are buried. And we could also drive over to see the now disused Catholic chapel at Lotherton Hall.
The walk will be no more than 4 miles in all, over more or less flat land. Wear outdoor shoes. Lunch could be packed, or in a pub. The plan is to meet at Aberford at 10am. Park on the main road near the Almshouses, which is at the south end of Aberford.
We are leaving the parish at 9.30am and would expect to be back at the parish by 2pm, at the latest.

Friday 14 August 2020

Summer Session of the SJMV 2020


This photo of the priest members of the SJMV was taken on 5th August 2020 at the Foyer in Art, France.
I am fifth from the left on the back row. There is an empty space on the right hand side; this is purely by chance and not because a priest had fallen over the railings behind.
The weather for our session was beautiful. The week before it had been 39C, the week following our session was 39C, but during our session it was between 23 and 26C.
We welcomed around a dozen new priest members into the Society at the various stages of engagement, and I was struck again by the evident and overriding ethos of the Society - carefully and intentionally to nurture the lives and supernatural vocations of Diocesan priests.
I wish I had known about and had joined the Society twenty years before I did. St John Vianney, keep us all before God.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Easter 2020

The best thing about Easter this year is that Cardinal Pell is acquitted and free.

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Thanks be to God.

The cardinal is acquitted, but not so Australia. But mercy is open to her.

Monday 30 March 2020

Towards a real vision

Isn't it great to wake up in Our Lady's Dowry!
I have been asked a few times in life about which country I would really like to live in.
Instinctively I have been able to answer immediately: I would like to live in pre-Reformation England.
Well, now that we have made new the Rededication of England as the Dowry of Mary, we are tapping into a very old tradition, but more importantly, into a spirituality - a desiring to share our lives and their content with the Blessed Mother.
A dowry presupposes that a marriage is near, and about this we want our whole country to be a part of that marriage, which is the fullness of union between Christ and his Church.
All marriage need working at, and now we have a real contact and a renewed purpose to build the vision of the Church in this land.

Saturday 28 March 2020

A beautiful word of encouragement

I often think of, and refer myself to these words:
"Dear friends,
may no adversity paralyse you.
Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness.
The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that,
by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world."
Benedict XVI, 28.8.11

Wednesday 11 March 2020

A supreme court

The present hearing in Australia about the erroneous conviction of Cardinal Pell is something that is easily fathomed.
This conviction and subsequent appeals are not about Cardinal Pell, who everyone of right mind knows is innocent of the very thing that he was charged with and convicted of. This is about the incapacity of Australian society to be able to deal with the appalling sexual abuse phenomena, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, in recent decades.
I lived in Australia for over four years and liked every second of it. It is a land of huge horizons, of beauty, light and openness. But I was aware also, from Australian Cinema, Australian drug culture, alcohol culture, its suicide rates, all the various routes of hedonism, the terrible youth culture, and its strict and neurotic Anglo-Saxon bureaucracy, that there is a very dark side to Australia. 
In our home countries - and in the most surprising places - we are aware of this and try to circumnavigate it as best we can. But Australia is intent on making a scapegoat out of one of her very best sons. Cardinal Pell has done more to nurture Australian goodness than any other Australian, of our life time, who we could mention.
The conviction of Cardinal Pell on such a ludicrous charge beggars belief. Australia - you have a big problem, and treating your Cardinal in this way is not going to help you. He has already helped you more than you know. Do not darken the Southern Cross more. Australia - you are called to grow in grace and in goodness. Do not be oppressed by the darkness. Let there be interior light in Australia. You are on a knife edge. Why? You have so much to lose, and you have so much to gain. Why do you want dark powers to hold sway in your midst?

Sunday 8 March 2020

Catholic History Walk near Towton.

Saturday 28th March 2020 to Towton battlefield.
We will visit the battlefield site, the village of Saxton, and finish with a visit to the church of the Immaculate Conception at Barkstone Ash.
The battle field walk is around 3 miles on country paths, and we could walk to Barkstone Ash and back which would add another 3 miles. Please wear outdoor shoes, and we can decide, as before, whether to bring a packed lunch or to find a pub.
We’ll leave the parish at 9.30am on the Saturday, or we could meet, just after 10am at the battlefield site, which is just north of Saxton village.
We’ll finish the walk with the Guild prayers in the church of the Immaculate Conception.
The battle was fought in 1461 on 29th March. Our visit will be on the eve of the anniversary.

Sunday 1 March 2020

A beautiful day

Yesterday's Catholic History Walk was wonderful. As you know, because of the poor weather, we exchanged the walk to Hathersage and back for the celebration of Mass at the Padley Chapel.
We had a beautiful, votive Mass of the Martyrs in the chapel at Padley, after learning so much about the site and its significance from the custodians. We sang much of the Mass in honour of the two Blesseds, Frs Nicholas Garlick and Robert Ludlam, who were captured there in 1588.
Special thanks to the custodians of the chapel for preparing the place for our visit and for the wealth of knowledge which they shared with us.
Following the Mass and a look round the remains of the old manor house, we all drove over to the beautiful village of Tideswell, about nine miles away. The custodians had told us that the house in which Nicholas Garlick had lived, together with the connecting buildings which had been the school where he had taught local children the Catholic Faith, before he became a priest, is still there at the top of Hardy Lane in in the village. We also learned of the tradition; that following his execution in Derby, local Catholics brought he severed head back to Tideswell and buried it in the graveyard of St John's, the 'Cathedral of the Peak'. A plaque on the entrance to the church yard states this tradition.
I should also say that we had a wonderful lunch at the Anchor pub, just outside Tideswell. It really was a wonderful day.

Thursday 27 February 2020

Catholic History Walk at Padley.

This coming Saturday we have the Catholic History Walk. However, because the weather forecast is promising a lot of rain I have changed the plan somewhat.
We will celebrate Mass at the Padley Chapel at around 11am, instead of making the walk to Hathersage and back.
Following the Mass we could have lunch in a local pub.
So, please do come for 11am and park near Grindleford train station. Postcode S32 2HY.

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Remember the date

The meeting the Regina Caeli initiative is this coming Saturday.

Thursday 6 February 2020

A second Catholic History walk.

The walk is scheduled for Saturday 29th February 2020 and will visit the Padley Chapel and Hathersage in Derbyshire. For information on the Padley Chapel.
We will meet at Grindleford train station at around 10.30am. There is parking room on the  lane down to the train station. From there the Padley Chapel is only a few minutes walk away. I have arranged with some of the chapel's guardians for us to visit inside.
We will pray for our country using the prayers of the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom.
From there we will set off walking to Hathersage, a three mile walk. So, in all, the walk is six miles. The walk is on the flat, fairly easy, and only a part is on a road. Please wear outdoor shoes.
We can have lunch in Hathersage. There are a number of pubs and cafes. We can also visit Little John's grave. Although we walk back to the Padley Chapel, it is by a different path.
We could envisage being back at Grindleford station at around 3.30pm

Monday 27 January 2020

Leatherwood Honey

This is my favourite honey - Leatherwood. I've never been a fan of honey, but this honey, which I discovered while I was on mission in Sydney, is exceptional.

Sunday 26 January 2020

A new Home Schooling initiative

An exciting new schooling venture is announced. Regina Caeli is an independent and authentically Catholic tutoring centre providing two full days of taught lessons in school and lesson plans for three days of lessons taught at home, for boys and girls aged 4-18.

Regina Caeli is a response to the need for affordable, authentic, classical education - to help our children grow in love for God while providing them with a “classical style” of education so they learn how to think critically and become life-long learners. It is also a response to the need for Catholic families to come together and build community.

Local Catholic families are exploring opening a Regina Caeli Academy in the North of England and an information afternoon is taking place near Thirsk on Saturday 29th February 2020. Kari Beckman, American founder of Regina Caeli, is our Keynote speaker. Tickets £15 per family. For more details and booking, visit  

Saturday 25 January 2020

Trump Speaks At March For Life Rally | NBC News (Live Stream)

I cried when I watched this. This address is something I wasn't expecting ... I hope that the tide in turning.
Thank you President Trump.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Catholic History Walks

Now that I am more or less mobile again after my accident last year, and having had this desire in me for some time, I am launching out anew on the trail - Catholic History Walks.These will be informal pilgrimages, of cultural interest and with some prayer on behalf of our country and the Church's mission here.
I have explored and delved so much over the years and have acquired a quite a large repository and appreciation of many, many places that hold memories and meaning of our Catholic past. The sites that I am proposing to revisit, and to offer you the opportunity of of taking part, will invariably be in the north of England.
I am currently on mission in Wakefield, Yorkshire, and it is therefore opportune to select places that are in striking distance.
Now that we have entered into the new year and can see the evenings lengthening again, I propose Saturdays as the obvious days for these walks to take place.
Outdoor shoes will be necessary as we will inevitably use some country or rough paths. Lunch can be either packed or a pub lunch - although it will be better for us to decide beforehand which we would prefer, given the location.
The only costs involved will be the entry price if we enter managed locations, and of course, your own travel costs to and from the chosen location.
The Walks will be advertised and described here on this blog.
The first walk will be on Saturday 25th January 2020 to:
Osmotherly, the Lady Chapel and Mount Grace Priory. Meet outside the village pub, "The Queen Catherine", DL6 3AG, in Osmotherly at 10.15am. We will walk out of the village, up onto the escarpment and along, then come down towards the village and turn off to the track which leads to the Lady Chapel. We can spend some time there and pray the prayers of "The Guild of Our Lady of Ransom", before returning to the centre of the village and our cars. The length of the walk is around 6 to 7 miles in all, and will take in metalled roads and rough tracks. We will then drive round to visit the ruins of the Carthusian Priory nearby. The entrance fee is £9 per adult. Following that visit we will head home.
We could expect to leave the Priory ruins 2.30pm/3pm in order to return home.
Obviously you can use the comment feature on this blog to communicate your interest and ask me for further details.

Monday 13 January 2020

A whole new horizon.

Last week I went to see the much acclaimed musical "A Girl from the North Country". It was superb!
What I experienced was a completely new appreciation of Bob Dylan's songs. The creators of this musical have delved into the 1930s and 1940s of America's mid-west and unearthed the deeper pathos of those years, which formed Dylan's own vision of life, and which we experience in the span of his songwriting.
Dylan had this pathos 'built into him', and it has flowed out of him in word and music. It is particularly the hardness of life, its struggles amidst hopes and glimpses of light and goodness, which this musical and Dylan's songs have brought to life. No wonder there is great depth in his songs!
This musical brought a completely new horizon into vision, one which has escaped me until now. The commentators of Dylan's music that I have encountered have largely come from the 'drugs, sex and rock and roll' culture, and I don't think that they have been able to get beneath Dylan's 'wordsmith' language and the very sound in which he expresses it. I wonder if Bob Dylan himself is aware of the depth of historical pathos which his songs contain. Sometimes it needs someone else to express for us the depth of what we want to say.
All I can say is: if you are able, go and see this musical before the season ends.
The 1930s and 40s stand in contrast to our our era; I wonder what pathos will come from the beginning of the new millennium, and who will express it (better than B16.)
The implicit pathos of many of Dylan's songs is perhaps what attracts so many to them. In an era of superficial happiness there is something much deeper which holds us. In that place God is freer to act.