Sunday, 29 April 2012

CD 258 Acolytes in the Liturgy

What functions may an instituted acolyte perform in the Liturgy? Can he expose the Blessed Sacrament? Should he wear a cope?

In 1973, Pope Paul VI replaced the minor orders which were received by students training for the priesthood with admission to candidacy for Holy Orders, and the ministries of lector and acolyte. These are considered as lay ministries, though few dioceses institute lay people to these ministries except those who are in priestly formation. (One reason may be that Pope Paul reserved these ministries to men.)

The acolyte assists the priest and deacon especially in the celebration of Mass. He serves at Mass (a function that is normally carried out by others if there is no acolyte) and is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion ex officio. If extraordinary ministers are required for the distribution of Holy Communion, the acolyte should be deputed to this function before others. He may also purify the sacred vessels after Holy Communion.

If there is no priest or deacon available, it is legitimate for an acolyte (or indeed a specially commissioned extraordinary minister) to expose the Blessed Sacrament for adoration. I have not found any particular instruction for what the acolyte ought to wear for this. According to the general practice of the Church, it would seem appropriate for him to wear an alb or a cassock and cotta. Although the cope is used by acolytes (and sometimes by lay people) for some functions at pontifical Mass in the extraordinary form, and for some processions and at the divine office in both forms, I doubt the suitability of an acolyte wearing a cope to expose the Blessed Sacrament since, in the absence of the priest this is not a solemn exposition.

Since Pope Paul decreed that the functions of the subdeacon are included in those of lector and acolyte, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has confirmed that the practice of an acolyte carrying out the functions of the subdeacon at High Mass in the extraordinary form may be tolerated. This would be particularly appropriate if it made it possible to celebrate High Mass rather than simply a Missa Cantata.

Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
Suggestions for Catholic Dilemmas are always welcome in the combox.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Drenched, spat-on and sworn at (American Style?)

It has become fashionable for pro-abortion campaigners in Britain to refer to prayer vigils outside abortion clinics as "American-style protests." Why I am Pro-Life, a blog for young pro-lifers in Britain, had a post the other day: Yeehaw watch out for "American tactics and American money".

Now I know that some Americans read this blog: you may be baffled by this apparent racism on the part of the pro-abortionists. As the Yeehaw post points out, it is only a selective anti-Americanism. At the BPAS they are happy to appoint Americans and take American money - as long as it is from the right sort of Americans. With that in mind, I hope you won't mind a report on today's pro-life Vigil at Maidstone with allusions to the "American style" of the goings-on.

Bishop John Hine, auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Southwark with responsibility for the Kent area, joined the Helpers of God's Precious Infants today. He celebrated the 12.30pm Mass at St Francis in Maidstone before we walked the short distance round the corner into Brewer Street to stand across the road from the Marie Stopes abortion clinic. As usual, we stood in a line on the edge of the pavement so as not to cause an obstruction to anyone. We said fifteen decades of the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, interspersed with a few other prayers and some Marian chants - I always choose ones familiar from Lourdes and Fatima.

Two of the helpers offer leaflets to anyone passing by, including the men and women who are entering the clinic and will engage them in conversation if possible - quite a few just walk past.

If you grew up in England and have been away for a few years, one of the things you will notice is how much we now look like a police state. Half the adult population seems to have in their wardrobe a pair of black or dark blue serge trousers, some sort of military-style top, often with pouches hanging down the chest or tied round the waist, and a stab-vest. On the back is the rubric indicating the area of "enforcement" in which they have been trained. (There should be a new "I Spy" book for this.) Today the first arrivals were "Environmental Enforcement." They patrol to stop people dropping chewing gum, cigarette ends or, presumably, American-Style McDonalds wrappers - and to warn of the £110 fine if you put your rubbish out too early.

Unfortunately they seemed powerless to act against our littering the pavement with Rosary-saying pro-lifers, though they spent some time in conversation with an agitated young man who was wearing American-Style three-quarter length trousers and swearing a lot. He warned some of the rather gentle ladies at the end of our line that they should tell us all to leave in five minutes or else. (It was a bit like a scene in an American Film.) The "or else" was that he brought out a bucket of water and threw it over some completely passive and peaceful people who continued saying the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery.

Enter, five minutes later, the real McCoy of uniforms: Her Majesty's Constabulary. I understand that this is now properly called the "Police Service." They did their job with admirable coolness and diplomacy. The young chap, who had gone back into his house, had a visit and unfortunately the police service will just have prosecute him, on account of the fact that most of London and the South East is now monitored by CCTV and he will have a hard time arguing that "I never done nothing."

While the Police were still around, a traffic warden - sorry "Parking Enforcement Officer" - came along and pecked into her portable electronic parking fine issuer and carefully positioned a ticket on a vehicle that had transgressed the Council's permission for siting a stationary vehicle, probably having exceeded the length of time permitted in the serial-numbered bay provided. She was joined by a fellow enforcement officer. The Environmental Enforcement were still walking up and down, so that there were now six uniformed personnel from three different faculties.

Unfortunately they had all gone by the time an angry chap, randomly walking in the middle of the road (or should I say "jaywalking" American-Style) summoned up the courage to stop, spit ferociously at the quiet, rosary-saying pro-lifers and shout "F***ing - <something>" (I didn't catch the second part of the imprecation.) To complete the vigil, a gentleman walking with his wife (he was probably too old to have a "partner") came up to me and berated me in polite but forceful language (very much "in my face" American-Style) about how disgraceful we all were. I did offer to talk to him away from the prayers but he declined the invitation.

All in all, a fairly normal hour or so of pro-life vigilling in Maidstone. In fact, it is an intensely prayerful time for all those who attend. The effort to concentrate on the mysteries while on the street makes for a better Rosary than usual. The intentions offered up cover many areas of pro-life prayer, including unborn children, mothers in difficulty, medical personnel, people who work in abortion clinics, legislators, and Church leaders.

The BPAS and others prate on about intimidation and "American-Style" protests in an attempt to convince the public that we are about to blow something up or shoot someone. In fact, the experience of the peaceful, prayerful, non-confrontational, pro-life people who make these vigils is that they face abuse, intimidation, spittle and assault. And then get cast as the bad guys. Modern Britain is certainly changing. I wonder how long it will be before we have to go and say the Rosary outside euthanasia clinics.

I have played up the incidents today because I think that it is important to get the message across that this is a peaceful vigil and the opponents of it are the ones disposed to violence and intimidation. In fact the participants in the vigil are able to focus on their prayers.

Back at the Church I asked around to see who had the most water thrown over them. The group had a laugh about it and were pretty sanguine. They had already offered it up as a sacrifice for pro-life intentions.

God bless them all for turning out week after week in such circumstances. And God bless Bishop Hine for being there today to support them. If there are any young readers in reach of Maidstone (and lets face it, there are trains from central London that take an hour to Maidstone East which is right next to the Church) do try to be there from time to time.

Newman on not changing the Liturgy

An Oratorian sent me a link to a fascinating piece by Blessed John Henry Newman, one of his Tracts for the Times. The title is On Alterations in the Liturgy. Newman was writing as an Anglican at the time - the Tracts were an important part of the activities of the Oxford Movement: Newmans fmaous Tract 90, arguing for a Catholic interpretation of the 39 articles, caused immense controversy, brought the series to an end, and was a significant milestone in his conversion.

In Tract 3, Newman is essentially arguing against change in the Liturgy. I think that many of you would be interested to read the whole tract but here are some quotations. First of all on the "temper" of innovation:
"But as regards ourselves, the Clergy, what will be the effect of this temper of innovation in us? We have the power to bring about changes in the Liturgy; shall we not exert it? have we any security, if we once begin, that we shall ever end? Shall not we pass from non-essentials to essentials? And then, on looking back after the mischief is done, what excuse shall we be able to make for ourselves for having encouraged such proceedings at first?"
Then on the cursing psalms which were in fact omitted in our post-concilar Liturgia Horarum:
There are some who wish the imprecatory Psalms omitted; there are others who would lament this omission as savouring of the shallow and detestable liberalism of the day.
On the same subject Newman observes later in the Tract:
If we were to leave out the imprecatory Psalms, we certainly countenance the notion of the day, that love and love only is in the Gospel the character of ALMIGHTY GOD and the duty of regenerate man; whereas that Gospel, rightly understood, shows His Infinite Holiness and Justice as well as His Infinite Love; and it enjoins on men the duties of zeal towards Him, hatred of sin, and separation from sinners, as well as that of kindness and charity.
 I was struck forcibly by the application of the following paragraph to our circumstances over 170 years later:
We know not what is to come upon us; but the writer for one will try so to acquit himself now, that if any irremediable calamity befalls the Church, he may not have to vex himself with the recollections of silence on his part and indifference, when he might have been up and alive. There was a time when he, as well as others, might feel the wish, or rather the temptation, of steering a middle course between parties; but if so, a more close attention to passing events has cured his infirmity. In a day like this there are but two sides, zeal and persecution, the Church and the world; and those who attempt to occupy the ground between them, at best will lose their labour, but probably will be drawn back to the latter. Be practical, I respectfully urge you; do not {5} attempt impossibilities; sail not as if in pleasure boats upon a troubled sea. Not a word falls to the ground, in a time like this. Speculations about ecclesiastical improvements which might be innocent at other times, have a strength of mischief now. They are realized before he who utters them understands that he has committed himself.

Vatican Widget

The Vatican widget arrived in this morning's post. I put it in the sidebar but the width is 280px which would extend it halfway across the blog. Reducing it to 150px to fit, the heading picture is chopped. I'll leave it there for a bit in case you want to let me know whether it is useful. Perhaps better to put this on the parish website.

Here is the full 280px version:

Not here any more ;-)

Ah! I see that placing the widget in the post blanks out the widget on the sidebar. I'll leave it here for a day or so anyway.

UPDATE: I have removed it now on account of the length of the last couple of posts. The sidebar version works.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Nuncio to Bishops: Express Church teaching in a clear and outspoken way

On St George's day, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Mennini addressed the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales at their Plenary meeting in Leeds. He began by speaking of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and asking for generosity in support of it. He spoke of the Bishops' pastoral letter on marriage as "a good start." On the question of marriage, he raised another issue, quoting Pope Benedict:
On the practical level, marriage preparation programmes must be carefully reviewed to ensure that there is greater concentration on their catechetical component and their presentation of the social and ecclesial responsibilities entailed by Christian marriage. In this context we cannot overlook the serious pastoral problem presented by the widespread practice of cohabitation, often by couples who seem unaware that it is gravely sinful, not to mention damaging to the stability of society.
A little further on, he said:
We all know how difficult it is to live in an increasingly secularised society but, that is why we need to express the teaching of the Church in a clear and outspoken way. This testimony in public life will affect the future of the young and will, God willing, also touch the hearts of all persons of goodwill who are seeking meaning in their lives and, often without realising it, are in fact, searching for God.
Here is a link to the full address.

Cat sandwiches and planking

Posting photos of pet cats with a slice of bread on their heads is apparently the latest internet craze. It is a while since I read a newspaper regularly but now that I have an iPad I do flick through the Telegraph website over breakfast to see what people are excited about. Up there with the Leveson enquiry is the cat sandwich.

Another important subject is planking. Wikipedia gives us a sober enough definition:
Planking (or the Lying Down Game) is an activity consisting of lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location. Both hands must touch the sides of the body and having a photograph of the participant taken and posted on the Internet is an integral part of the game.[1] Players compete to find the most unusual and original location in which to play. The term planking refers to mimicking a wooden plank. Rigidity of the body must be maintained to constitute good planking.
but Kym, the founder of iPlanking tells us that
Planking requires discipline, stillness, peace with oneself, concentration, and the ability to block out the external environment and distractions.
which tells me that it must soon be coming to a spirituality centre near you. You may laugh but wait until you see a note in your parish newsletter for a weekend of Planking Prayer.

I was thinking that it would be fun to plank in St Peter's Square. Of course, a brief search informs me that plenty of people have already done that.

Posted using

Perhaps I could try and plank in the Pontifical Council for Social Communications or something.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Moving film of Sophie Scholl

There is a trend in films today (in fact on one site I saw it as a whole category to itself) where women are more accomplished at violence and nastiness than men. One of the reasons I thrilled to Sophie Scholl: The Final Days was that Julia Jentsch portrays Sophie Scholl as a women of immense strength without having to outblast the bad guys with guns, knives or karate.

Some time ago I wrote about the White Rose movement which was run by Sophie and her brother Hans along with other young people advocating resistance to National Socialism. Their campaign involved graffiti and the distribution of leaflets. Sophie, Hans and Christoph Probst were tried in the "People's Court" and executed by guillotine.

I was particularly moved by an exchange during the interrogation in which Scholl speaks of mentally ill children being taken off to be gassed or poisoned. When the other children asked where they were going, the nurses said that they were going to heaven. the interrogator waves his hand and says that they were Lebensunwertes Leben (life unworthy of life - a classic Nazi expression.)

During the trial, Sophie says to the judge "You may hang us now but you will be hanged tomorrow" - a chillingly accurate prediction of the Nuremberg trials.

Here is a contemporary photo of the three:

CD 257 Innocent but mistaken insurance claim

I claimed for the loss of my hearing aid, thinking that I had lost it at the theatre. My insurance company paid out immediately. Some weeks later I found it in the Church office – I had in fact left it in the Church. Should I return the money to the insurance company or can I donate it to charity?

You have acquired a sum of money in good faith which you are not entitled to in justice. The insurance company has a right to the money since it has paid out for a loss which did not in fact occur (even though you genuinely thought that it had, and there was no intention on your part to defraud the company.) Therefore it would be right to restore the money to the insurance company itself. This also works in favour of the common good, since insurance companies have to raise premiums in order to offset their risks. Although an individual payment will only have a small effect on the overall calculation of risk by the company, it is a part of such calculations.

In other words, by returning the money to the insurance company, you restore to them what was, objectively speaking, unjustly taken (even though there was no fault on your part); and you accept your responsibility to foster the common good. On a practical note, your hearing aid will once again be insured.

If we come into possession of something that rightfully belongs to someone else, whether we do so by theft, or by accident, we should make restitution to the person to whom it rightfully belongs. It is only when such restitution is impossible or if there is a grave cause preventing us from restoring the property to its rightful owner, that we may discharge our responsibility by donating the thing, or an equivalent sum of money, to a charity. In the case of an insurance company, it is simple enough to restore the money to its rightful owner – your honesty will also be a good example to any employees of the company who are involved in receiving the payment that you make.

Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
Suggestions for Catholic Dilemmas are always welcome in the combox.

Politically incorrect quotation marks

Dylan Parry represented the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma yesterday at a meeting convened by Jamie Bogle of the Catholic Union to explore ways of opposing the government's plans for same-sex "marriage". Members of the Coalition for Marriage were present as well as representatives from a number of other groups. You can see the full list at Dylan's post: Catholic groups unite forces to oppose 'gay marriage' - In promoting traditional marriage, we're all in this together!

It is encouraging to see this grass roots opposition growing. The Coalition for Marriage petition has nearly reached half a million. If you have not signed, or if you can get a few more people to sign up, now is the time. Also a good time to send in any half-filled sheets of signatures - you can always get more forms.

I do recommend that we all use quotation marks when writing about same-sex "marriage." Thinking about this, I wonder how long it will be before we are fined for using them.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Men's retreat in August

This just in from a reader:
Men's retreat in August, with daily EF Mass

The monks of Saint Joseph de Clairval Abbey in Flavigny, France, will again be giving a a five-day (silent) retreat for men this August, following the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.

The retreat will be from Thursday 16th to Tuesday 21st August at Pantasaph in North Wales. Mass will be celebrated each day during the retreat according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Here are links for the Retreat details and for Registration.

St George, protector of human life

You have protected me from the assembly of the malignant” (Ps 64.3)

As well as being the patron of England, St George is the patron of Egypt, Bulgaria, Aragon, Catalonia, Romania, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Iraq, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia. And of course, Georgia where there are 365 Churches dedicated to him.

Thanks to the rise of irrational rationalism, even many Catholics go along with the idea that because there was a legend about St George, he must himself have been a legend. The dedication of Churches to him from the fourth century onwards rather tells against this fancy.

We may provisionally accept the general consensus that he was born sometime between 256 and 283, that he was a soldier in the Imperial Guard at Nicomedia under Diocletian, that when the most savage of persecutions began, including the requirement that every soldier sacrifice to the false gods, St George openly professed his faith and was martyred. When I offer incense on the feast of a martyr I often reflect that all they had to do to save their lives was to offer a few grains of incense to the false gods.

The first Church in his honour in England dates back to the reign of Alfred, but his popularity grew during the crusades. His was very much a popular cultus rather than centrally organised, and by the time of the hundred years’ war, he was invoked continually by the soldier, immortalised of course in the line of Henry V “Cry ‘God for Harry, England and St George!’”

The legend of the defeat of the dragon has its own significance for England today. The people of Silene had to bring a sheep in order to appease the dragon so that they could draw water. When a sheep was not available, a maiden was substituted, the name being drawn by lot. St George happened along when the princess was to be sacrificed. He fortified himself with the sign of the cross and slayed the dragon.

Today in England, human sacrifice takes the particular form of abortion and the killing of human embryos either for experimentation or in the process of IVF. This sacrifice is made in order to avoid some difficulty, to create new life according to our own demands, or to use the human life to produce a cure for other, older people.

We pray to St George for the protection of human life in England today, for the true, worthy and noble respect of maidenhood, and for the triumph of the truth against falsehood, good against evil, God against Satan.

Cry “God for Elizabeth, England and St George.”

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Congratulations to Fr Bradley and Fr Lloyd

Fathers James Bradley and Daniel Lloyd were ordained to the priesthood today at St Patrick's Soho. Congratulations to both of them and to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. They are the first priests of the Ordinariate who were not previously ministering as priests in the Anglican Church.

Since Fr Bradley is the Communications Officer of the Ordinariate, we must allow a little grace before the photos and reports are up at the Ordinariate Portal ;-) In the meantime, you can read a report by Fr Ed Tomlinson. Fr Ray Blake has a couple of photos of the first blessings.

Friday, 20 April 2012

ACN Night of Witness

Aid to the Church in Need are holding a Night of Witness on Friday 17 May at Westminster Cathedral. Here is the progamme:
5.30pm Sung Mass to remember the modern-day martyrs to the Faith, concelebrated by Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan, Bishop Joannes Zakaria of Luxor, Egypt, and Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton.

6.30pm Rally for Religious Freedom on the cathedral piazza, celebrating our faith through speeches, music, drama, dance, poetry and film, with groups from Iraqi, Pakistani, Sudanese and Egyptian communities in the UK, as well as others.

7.30-8.30pm Solemn, candlelit vigil in Westminster Cathedral – in thanksgiving for the inspirational sacrifice of Christians today.
The ACN website has more information. The above image is a reduced version of the front of the flyer. Here is a link to download the full version. There are plenty of guest speakers and performers - including ooberfüse, the band that I met at the British Pakistani Christian Peace Rally at Trafalgar Square last month. (See also my posts about His Blood Cries Out and Heart's Cry.)

Unfortunately I won't be able to go, as I will be in Poland that week. I expect that the Rally in the Piazza will be both informative and entertaining. (Notice too, how this part of the evening is complementary to, but distinct from, the Mass and the candlelit vigil in the Cathedral.) Do go along if you can

Fr Barron to visit England

Catholicism Pure and Simple has all the details of new media evangelist Fr Robert Barron's forthcoming trip to England. He will be speaking in Durham, Liverpool, Birmingham and London to launch the Catholicism Series.

The Centre for Catholic Formation in my own diocese of Southwark recently trialled the Catholicism series. You can read a review at Transformed in Christ, written by a catechist in the diocese.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Vatican fails to take account of my travel plans

Oi! Vatican! Are you 'aving a larf? I go away for 24 hours to lecture for some good Benedictine nuns and celebrate Mass for them, spending several hours each way on trains boats and buses and you decide during this period when I am away from the blog:

1. To announce that the SSPX have responded to the doctrinal preamble and that it only remains for the CDF and the Pope to consider it. And the Vatican Press Officer, Fr Lombardi, admits that it is encouraging and that there is a desire to reach a conclusion. (Texts found most easily at Rorate Caeli as well as other posts with analysis.)

2. To issue a Doctrinal Assessment of the US Leadership Conference of Women Religious along with a statement from Cardinal Levada.

3. To announce a Vatican Widget in honour of the anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict.

OK, so n.3. was not as important as 1. and 2., but I have sent off for the widget eagerly in order to take up the promise that, as the English version of the communiqué states: "it will be possible to export all the principal novelties."

n.1. is very encouraging and certainly is a good reason to set aside some of my Easter money for a bottle of champagne to celebrate when things do come to a conclusion.

n.2. is of course sad in a way. Omar Gutierrez admonishes us: Let’s Be Sober About the LCWR Assessment and I suppose it would be unseemly to get plastered and end up watching EWTN's coverage and chanting "You're not singing anymore!" So we had better not do that. Still, I think that many faithful Catholics will rejoice that the Holy See is taking practical steps to implement advice that the Holy Father gave to the Bishops of England and Wales on the last ad limina visit:
In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.
As to champagne, Fr Z is sticking with the one that featured for the announcement of Summorum Pontificum. I'm minded to branch out and get some Bolly.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Off to St Cecilia's


There is something satisfying about travelling the entire length of a railway line. Shortly I will be leaving for Waterloo where I shall take a train to Portsmouth Harbour. The catameran will then take me to Ryde, home of St Cecilia's Abbey, a thriving community of Benedictine nuns who sing the whole office and Mass in Latin every day. Their life is the traditional Benedictine life according to the rule. No surprise that they have a steady stream of vocations. I count a number of old friends among the community and it will be great to see them. Tomorrow morning I will be celebrating Mass for the community - Novus Ordo, entirely in Latin, sung according to the Solesmes conventions about as perfectly as it is possible here on earth.

Here is a photo from a previous visit where I was celebrant for Vespers and Benediction. I think that I did clink the chains.

IOW 077

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

On the clinking of chains and a possible duel

Tomorrow I will be travelling to the Isle of Wight to give a lecture to some holy and fearsomely learned nuns on the subject of efficacious and sufficient grace. I considered that their knowledge of the Fathers would humiliate me and therefore a post-Tridentine controversy which is part of a course I gave to the Carthusians would at least enable me to hold my head above water.

At the last minute, I am wondering whether I should have chosen a weightier subject which has arisen on Fr Zuhlsdrof’s blog regarding the us of the thurible: To clink or not to clink. There is a poll attached to the post and at the time of writing the clinkers are in a massive majority of 91% which goes to show how Fr Z attracts sound readers to his blog.

I am certainly a clinker. Not only a double-tap for each incensing of the cross, but often a weaker clink when the pot is lowered in between – possibly misleading people into thinking that I have broken even more 1962 rubrics by giving three swings. At our solemn Masses we now have extra clinks because I have finally got round to housing some fine relics that were recovered during the time of the French Revolution. The chaps clubbed together to get some good reliquaries which now adorn the altar.

Mind you, we must not be extreme and intransigent in our support for clinking. The Carthusians who have not changed much since the 11th century, retain a single handed thurible swing in which there is no clinking at all but an expert swoosh for each monk in choir, in turn. So far I have not seen any black eyes or bleeding noses, but the guys there are physically robust so it would probably just be a matter to laugh about on the next walk. (I think that the Carthusian style is similar to how the Orthodox incense people, except that they have bells on the thurible which seems just silly.)

Fr Z has impugned me by asking in reference to our occasional Fire extinguisher training with the altar servers: “Is H.H. a notoriously bad at incensation?” There is only one possible resolution to this attack on my honour. I shall tweet a gauntlet across the Atlantic pending Father’s visit to Blighty in June.

For the duel, I shall choose a Heckler and Koch MP5 on the advice of one of my adult servers who was loaned one by the Norwegians on a tour of duty some years back, and swears by it. I fear that Fr Z will have more experience at shooting, living in a country where you can have guns if you want, even if you are not a criminal, but you never know what might happen on these occasions.

I wonder if the excommunications for duelling are still in force or whether they were abolished by Pope Paul VI sometime between 1968 and 1972, like everything else. Liberals ought to consider that the Church was completely out of touch in its approximately 200 year fight against the practice when all reasonable people thought that duelling was a necessary evil and that they could ignore the authority of the Pope. On the other hand, Pope Benedict might now maintain that the excommunications were in principle never abrogated and are still in force.

Perhaps I should calm down on the duelling issue. Admittedly I have from time to time struck the altar during the return bit of the incensation when you have to swing the thurible over the front edge. Needing glasses for reading, I usually leave them on at the offertory incensation, making for a dangerous miscalculation of distance.

As the modern Lourdes hymn has it: “Problems of life, you 'elp us to face...”

US charity funds British abortion training

Here's a story that we all missed: US charity to fund abortion training for British medical students. Medical Students for Choice (MSFC) will provide money for students from Britain and Ireland to do two week placements at British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) clinics so they can learn how to kill babies in the womb (in a safe and legal way.)

The problem being tackled by the MSFC and the BPAS is that increasingly, students are not really into destroying human life and would rather do something good instead. The $100K provided to 60-70 would-be abortionists results in 85% of them taking up this glamorous career path.

Thanks to Neil Addison of the Religion Law Blog for the link to this story. He points out that during the 40 Days for Life campaign, the Guardian and BPAS repeatedly spoke of the 40 Days as an American style protest. Odd that there seems nothing wrong with American style funding for the training of abortionists.

Monday, 16 April 2012

A Roman row

At Rome, tempers are flaring up as Angry Roman centurions besiege Colosseum. The argument with the police is quintessentially Roman. Look at the video - at 0'26" in, there is a wonderful torrent of Roman dialect which will bring back fond memories to those who studied out there. Maaassimoooou! Claaaaudia! Mo che fannnno? Voyo manja er pane. Aoo!

More on Fr Byles

BBC Essex has an article about Fr Byles whom I wrote about the other day. They have the above photo of a plaque in St Helen's Church in Chipping Ongar where he was Rector for eight years. The article also tells of a memorial plaque that is to be unveiled at Rossall Public School in Fleetwood, Lancashire, by Bishop Michael Campbell on 2 May in the school chapel.

See: Titanic 100: The Essex priest who refused to leave passengers

The article in the Catholic Herald by Fr Stewart Foster has now been put online: The priest who prayed the rosary and heard Confessions as the Titanic sank

In the combox, Steve T. reminds us that there were three priests on the Titanic, as well as a Jesuit scholastic who left the ship at Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland. (See: The Priests Aboard Titanic.) Fr. Juozas Montvila and Fr. Joseph Peruschitz also refused places on the lifeboats and continued to minister to the people as the ship went down. I presume that they gave general absolution at the end, once it was no longer possible to hear any more confessions. That would be a situation when General Absolution would be licit.

CD 256 on taxes and the TV licence

Since our taxes are used to fund abortion, contraception, and other moral evils, is it a sin to pay income tax?

Our Lord himself arranged for St Peter to pay the tax to Caesar. He provided the means by a miracle, but the tax was, in fact, paid. Similarly, St Paul told the Romans to be subject to the governing authorities, and to pay their taxes. (Rom 13.7) This teaching was accepted by the early Christians and is reflected in the Fathers of the Church. Bear in mind that government of the Roman empire included many unjust and cruel practices, as well as keeping law and order, and contributing to the good of the citizens.

We are in an analogous situation today. The rule of law, the enforcement of contracts, the provision of public services, and the defence of our liberty all rely upon their being a government which has the means to provide these things. We may disagree with a particular government and some of its policies and laws, but the example of Our Lord, St Paul and the early Christians teaches us that we have our own Christian duty to contribute to those services which are necessary for society to operate. Since we are compelled to contribute unwillingly to the bad things that a Government might do, we should campaign against such misuse of taxes and, where possible, vote accordingly.

Another example may help to make things clear. We might choose not to pay the Television Licence because we consider that the broadcast media are a bad influence on our society, our children, and ourselves. In this case we can keep within the law by not having a television, or by ensuring that we do not watch programmes as they are broadcast. We can suffer this deprivation without inconvenience. In the case of income tax, we are not able to opt out of having law and order, a police force, a judiciary, or the enforcement of contracts, and therefore we are obliged to pay the taxes necessary to fund these and other services, even though we may also be contributing unwillingly to some evils.

Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
Suggestions for Catholic Dilemmas are always welcome in the combox.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Titanic confessor

Being mercifully free of live television, I do not always pick up on what the latest craze is, but I think that this weekend we are in the grip of a feverish concentration on the Titanic so it might be worth trying to work Fr Byles into this Sunday's sermon. He was a parish priest from Essex who was travelling to conduct the wedding of his brother in Brooklyn. He paid £13 for his ticket. The website Measuring Worth calculates the value of that today as £1,000 using the retail price index, or £4,240 using average earnings. Either way, Fr Byles obviously valued the trip highly.

When the ship struck the iceberg, Fr Byles was on deck saying his office. During the panic, he helped steerage passengers up to the boat deck, helped women and children get into the lifeboats, refused a place on the lifeboat himself, went among the passengers hearing confessions, prayed the rosary with those left on board, and went down with the ship, still saying the rosary with them

I am grateful to Fr Stewart Foster who has written about Fr Byles in this week's Catholic Herald. The article is not online, only in the print edition, but there is an interview with Fr Foster at Alive Publishing.

As well as providing a heroic Catholic reference for people who are hearing a lot about the Titanic on television, it might also be worth pointing out that the popular film caricatures him by having him recite verses from the Apocalypse. It is always worth waking people up to the subtle prejudice that they normally don't notice in the mainstream media.

SSPX accept more of Vatican II's teaching than modernist theologians

Just who exactly is more opposed to the actual teaching of Vatican II as found in the texts of the Council?

Sandro Magister today offered comments and published an article by John R T Lamont (For the Lefebvrists, It's the Last Call to the Sheepfold.) Lamont uses a response to the Holy See by Fr Jean-Michel Gleize FSSPX to summarise the difficulties that the SSPX has with a few texts from Vatican II. He then lists a number of conciliar texts on the scriptures, the Church, the Eucharist and marriage and points out that in fact the SSPX accept all of these and that far more of the teaching of Vatican II than many theologians in Europe, North America, and Australasia. He then says:
The vast majority of theologians in Catholic institutions in Europe, North America, and Australasia would reject most or all of these teachings. These theologians are followed by the majority of religious orders and a substantial part of the bishops in these areas. It would be difficult, for example, to find a Jesuit teaching theology in any Jesuit institution who would accept a single one of them. The texts above are only a selection from the teachings of Vatican II that are rejected by these groups; they could be extended to many times the number.

Such teachings however form part of the 95% of Vatican II that the FSSPX accepts. Unlike the 5% of that council rejected by the FSSPX, however, the teachings given above are central to Catholic faith and morals, and include some of the fundamental teachings of Christ himself.
I think that Lamont exaggerates. Nowadays there are plenty of Catholic theologians around (including ones who write articles with lots of footnotes in expensive journals) who accept the basics of Catholic teaching and happily subscribe to all of the listed texts of Vatican II. Nevertheless, he is right that there are plenty who don't, and it would still be hard to say which group is in the majority.

During the Year of Faith, I am sure that there will be many talks that will illustrate just how clearly the texts of Vatican II are on many basic issues of the faith, including, for example, the infallibility of the Pope - a text not even included in Lamont's list. I think it will become ever more difficult for popular modernists to claim the support of Vatican II for their outlandish opposition to the magisterium. The Catholic blogosphere has been one influence prompting students to look at the texts themselves.

The go-to blog for news of the Vatican-SSPX negotiations has always been Rorate Caeli. Today they have an article from La Croix, the semi-official news service of the French episcopate. Although one could not describe it as enthusiastic, the article is balanced in a way that would have been scarcely conceivable only a few years ago.

There is a real possibility that we could have news of an agreement quite soon. There is also the real possibility that it could drag on for months. I would quibble with Sandro Magister's "last call to the sheepfold" headline. For one thing, in the Catholic Church there is no last call to the sheepfold this side of death. If this attempt fails, there are sure to be further initiatives from Rome in the future.

And as Lamont's article shows, the SSPX already have more credibility as members of the sheepfold than many dissident theologians and bishops. Before anyone jumps in, let me say that I am most definitely not suggesting that you can pick and choose which teachings of Vatican II you accept. What we are allowed to do is to say that the controversial passages of Vatican II must be understood and interpreted in continuity with the traditional teaching of the Church. Many who bandy around the name of Vatican II as a slogan have no scruples at all about rejecting outright many doctrines that it clearly taught, especially concerning the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Neocatechumenal liturgy in need of reform

There was some confusion earlier in the year about the approval of the extra-liturgical ceremonies of the Neocatechumenal Way. Today, Sandro Magister has an article about Pope Benedict's attitude in particular to the way in which Mass is celebrated in the Neocatechumenal Way: That Strange Mass the Pope Doesn't Like

I have great admiration for the apostolic and evangelical zeal of the members of the Neocatechumenate. I am not particularly moved by arguments about them forming an "elite." Any group that ever did anything useful in the Church by way of apostolate was to some degree exclusive - this means nothing really much more than gathering an effective group together with a common purpose for the good. There have been many priestly vocations, in some cases reviving whole dioceses; in addition, the generosity of families in following the moral teaching of the Church is a fine example to others.

However the Liturgy does look in need of major overhaul. This problem is not confined to the Neocatechumenate. Many of the new movements encouraged by Blessed John Paul have remained stuck in a 70s-80s time warp with regard to their liturgy and find it difficult to adapt to the new situation created by Pope Benedict's Summorum Pontificum.

I pray that the neo-catechumenate will be able to preserve its powerful charism for the Church while dropping the liturgical aberrations, and that other movements will also wake up and smell the coffee.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Cardinal Pell v Richard Dawkins

Cardinal Pell has gone up against Richard Dawkins in a televised debate (with added Twitter hashtag.) Not so much "Rumble in the Jungle" as "Thunder Down Under." The Sydney Morning Herald reported on the debate today (or yesterday or tomorrow - I have a hard enough time working out what time it is in America) anyway, here is a link to the article: Dawkins and Pell battle it out in one hell of a debate

You can see the full show on YouTube. I'm going to fire this up on my iPad in a moment and it will take the place of my bedtime reading tonight.

H/T to the ever excellent "Morning Catholic must-reads" of Luke Coppen, editor of the Catholic Herald.

Good Pope John railing against anti-Latin innovators

"Let no innovator dare to write against the use of Latin in the sacred rites." Well plenty of innovators have done so and nowadays you are thought a bit of a maverick if you write too much in favour of Latin in the sacred rites.

Perhaps the Year of Faith and the worldwide re-examination of Vatican II that will be a part of it, might help continue to redress the balance. Although there is plenty of support for Latin on the Catholic blogosphere, I hear all the time from people who are looked on as weirdos if they even suggest a little bit of Latin in their Sunday novus ordo Mass.

(Not sure where the graphic was from originally - it just arrived in my inbox. If you are the creator, drop me a note in the combox and I'll happily add a link to your blog or website.)

Monday, 9 April 2012

Triduum at Blackfen

2012 04 05_0025
Photo credit: Mulier Fortis

We were blessed at Blackfen to have the assistance of Fr Simon Heans of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham who gamely agreed to be deacon for the Maundy Thursday so that we could have High Mass in the usus antiquior. He also assisted at Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, both in the novus ordo. The servers and MC for those services are all competent in both forms so we had a fair bit of mutual enrichment.

There were quite a few confessions during Holy Week, with the biggest queues being after the services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. defénde nos in proélio has mentioned the Święcone - the blessing of food on Holy Saturday, a universal Catholic custom which has been preserved especially by the Polish. It has to be on Holy Saturday at about midday because that is when the Easter Vigil finished until it was changed in 1955. (For more information, see my post from last year.) We had a few more people joining in this year and I hope that this builds up. I'll have to see whether there is a popular Polish hymn that we could learn.

Thanks be to God for all the graces of the Triduum, for the indulgences gained, confessions made, and for three new Catholics in the parish.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Message from Una Voce Brasil

Una Voce Brasil asks for your prayers for their new apostolate. Danilo writes:
Brazil is by far the largest catholic country but it is also the most secularized of all latin america. We're facing the challenges of abortion, gay unions, euthanasia and worst. The political persecution of the catholic religion and catholic morals is very hard. Like in your homeland, the crucifixes here are threatened by unfair legislation that forbids the image of our Lord in the public spaces.

Here also grows the interest for the TLM despite the clerical persecution of traditional-mind catholics. Many young priests are giving a chance for the old form and they are discovering a deep sense of sacred and a new perspective of the liturgy, just like the Holy Father wrote in his letter to the bishops about the Motu Proprio.
The challenge of secularism is found across the globe and it is good to hear of Catholics on "the far side of the world" (from our point of view) who are confident in their faith and ready to "Save the Liturgy, Save the World."

Friday, 6 April 2012

Why sitting round a table for Mass is nonsense

One of the consolations of reading other priests' blogs is knowing that you are not alone. I find this, not only in general terms but in relation to some very specific questions such as the temptations of Christ (He was not simply "tempted" in every way that we are because He did not have concupiscence), the apostolic origins of clerical celibacy, the serious doubts about the authorship and dating of the Apostolic Tradition (which is not therefore an unimpeachable text for constructing liturgical reform). Those are just off the top of my head. Nowadays, I don't feel so much like a voice crying in the wilderness on these issues.

Today I delighted to find another example. On his excellent blog, Mgr Charles Pope has written a piece on The Seating Plan at the Last Supper. Hint - Christ and the apostles were not sat round a table as depicted by, say, Leonardo Da Vinci.

Therefore, by the way, even if we were to accept liturgical archaeologism as a sensible guide to the celebration of Mass, and even if the early Christians ever did in fact model liturgical ceremonies themselves on the ritual of the Last Supper, it would still not be correct even on those terms to have everyone sitting around a large table for Mass.

Amazing video of development from conception to birth

Alexander Tsiaras, mathematician and founder of a medical-imaging company, produced this video of the process of development of a baby from conception to birth.

H/T Joseph Pearce

By their niceness you shall know them?

Amid the furore over his plans to promote gay marriage "because I am a conservative", Prime Minister David Cameron has issued an Easter Message. Cranmer has a good fisk of it over on his blog. He starts off by pointing out that Dave has confused Easter Week and Holy Week.

The message is more or less what you expect from a British politician trying to "do religion" - the form of Christianity acceptable to politicians like Dave is basically a bland custard of niceness. The "values" of Christianity are compassion, generosity, grace, humility and love, and these make our country what it is – "tolerant, generous and caring." (Unless you want to wear a crucifix at work or run an adoption agency without agreeing to place children with gay couples.)

I liked His Grace's response to this flannel:
Those who have made our country what it is have been known to be manifestly intolerant, ungenerous and uncaring of that which is unjust, immoral or wrong. They possessed a crusading passion for justice which was animated by a deep and burning sense of anger. Of course, they might also have had their ‘tolerant, generous and caring’ moments, but by exalting these ‘values’ above all others you seek to neuter Christians by demanding that they be ‘nice’; and by their smiley faces and happy-clappy choruses shall ye know them. You favour the gentle, inoffensive, easy-going type of Christian, whom Jesus might have termed ‘lukewarm’. What about those who, like Jesus, can be prickly and principled? Is there a place for them in the modern Conservative Party, or, indeed, in modern Britain?

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

In awe of the Logos

This image of the sky was the result of pointing a 4.1 meter telescope at the same patch of sky for 55 hours. Discover magazine links to an ultra-high resolution version in the article An ultradeep image that’s *full* of galaxies!. The 17,000 x 11,000 pixels version comes in at 250 Mb. The image contains 200,000 galaxies for you to zoom in on. Some of the galaxies are billions of light years away. The light left them not long after the universe was created. The author of the article observes:
I’ve spent years studying all this, and it still sometimes gets to me: just how flipping BIG the Universe is! And this picture is still just a tiny piece of it: it’s 1.2 x 1.5 degrees in size, which means it’s only 0.004% of the sky!
Considering the vastness of the universe, and our ability to study it, and to discover laws and constants that apply throughout its enormous breadth, should help us in our humility before God whose infinite wisdom created it.

Even more, we should be humbled that the Logos through whom it was all created, deigned to become a man like us in all things but sin, to allow himself to be betrayed, to give Himself to us as food, to be tortured and crucified, to rise again in the flesh, and to remain for ever with us in the Church.

We look in awe at countless galaxies, billions of light years away and then, for the sake of some trivial pleasure, sin against the one who created them, and who came to our little spot in the universe to suffer and die to win us  heaven.

I often think that the first reaction of most of us when we meet Our Lord and Saviour at the last judgement will be to cringe in agony at how stupid we have been.

CD 255 Will invalid absolution send me to hell?

A while ago you said that if a priest used the wrong words, the absolution in confession would be invalid. Would God really send someone to hell just because the priest made a mistake? I thought we left that sort of nonsense behind with Vatican II.

People knew long before Vatican II that someone in a state of mortal sin who was unable to receive the sacrament of Penance would be saved if he was repentant. The Penny Catechism asked (question 294) “What special value has perfect contrition?” and the answer was:
“Perfect contrition has this special value: that by it our sins are forgiven immediately, even before we confess them; but nevertheless, if they are serious, we are strictly bound to confess them afterwards.”
If the reason for a person’s being unable to celebrate the sacrament of Penance properly is that the priest did not feel obliged to use the essential form given by the Church, it is he who will answer to God for it, not the penitent.

We do not have to be immaculate to make an act of perfect contrition; the word “perfect” refers to the motive not to the sanctity of the person praying. “Perfect contrition” simply means that in our repentance we are motivated by the love of God rather than fear or disgust for sin. In modern terms it means that we are sorry because we have let God down, not simply because we have let ourselves down.

If we use one of the popular acts of contrition and say the words sincerely, or if we use our own words to express our love for God and sorrow for having offended Him, then we may be sure that He forgives our sins. With serious sins, we must resolve to make a sacramental confession so that we are reconciled with God and the Church, and can return to Holy Communion with a clear conscience. The celebration of the sacrament also brings us many graces and assists us in our daily conversion of life; its frequent use is a powerful means of growing in the love of God.

Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
Suggestions for Catholic Dilemmas are always welcome in the combox.

"The Calling" - new vocations DVD

Southwark Vocations have produced a DVD “The Calling” to promote priestly vocations in England and Wales. The film begins with a young man wondering about his vocation, and ends with him discerning that he has to try a vocation to the priesthood.

Much of the DVD features a variety of priests and seminarians talking good sense about vocation to the priestly life in general and their own vocation in particular. There are sensible and down to earth comments on celibacy and on the importance of fidelity to the teaching of the Church.

I liked the comment of one seminarian:
“I think you should get up, follow Christ, be brave, and allow the Church to decide with you whether you have a vocation.”
The DVD is professionally put together by Vast Media; it runs for 23 minutes and has an accompanying booklet which includes a lesson and workshop plans for use in schools and in parish groups. To purchase a copy (£10), email the Southwark Vocations Office.

Speaking of the Southwark Vocations Office, I see from the Southwark Vocations blog that they want some more traffic driven to Invocation 2012. This is a national discernment festival for young adults which will take place in the grounds of St. Mary’s College, Oscott in the Archdiocese of Birmingham from Friday 6th - Sunday 8th July 2012.

So do go over and have a look at Invocation 2012.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A moving approach to babies crying at Mass

Crying children at Mass are material for news articles, blog posts, sage advice and rants. I've written myself in the Catholic Herald from time to time in the Catholic Dilemmas column, taking a fairly standard approach along the lines of how we must be considerate to each other, understand the difficulties of young parents, not be too fussy and so on.

Matthew Warner has a good piece called What you should be thinking when you hear noisy kids at Mass and I agree with him. It is precisely because I am used to defending families from the "tut tut" brigade with conventional defences of occasionally noisy children that I was blown over by the article by Fr Ryan Erlenbush on Theology Today: Crying children call to mind the mystery of the Mass.

Father reflects on the reaction that we should have to the sacrifice of the Cross and the way that infants can remind us of the drama of the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. Here is a taster:
Let the sound of toddlers and infants weeping (and even wailing) call to mind for you the tears shed by the Sorrowful Mother of our Savior, and by St. John the Beloved. Can you hear the wailing of St. Mary Magdalene, she who was overcome with grief? Consider also the other devout women, who wept strait through from Friday till early Sunday morning.
Father concludes his article:
Every time I celebrate Mass, I pray that God will allow a little child to cry – lest I should ever lose sight of the mystery which I am consummating.
Thanks be to God for blogging! I could have spent a few more years celebrating parish Masses and then gone to my grave without ever hearing this insight. Thank you Father Erlenbush.

Politics of abortion and psychiatry

The Guardian report that I posted about yesterday had a segment on the question of abortion and mental health. This is an area where psychiatry has become highly politicised. On Mercator, Dr Pravin Thevathasan gives a brief summary of studies that reach widely differing conclusions (See: Shutting down the debate.) The study of Danish researcher, Trine Munk-Olsen concluded that there was no causal link between abortion and subsequent mental ill health. The studies of Professors Coleman and Ferguson found a large increase in risk of mental health problems.

This July, there will be an international congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Liverpool - only those who find no link between abortion and mental health problems have been invited, it seems.

An interesting point made by Dr Prevathasan is that Munk-Olsen's review stated:
“the rates of mental health problems for women with an unwanted pregnancy were the same whether they had an abortion or gave birth.”
This in itself contradicts the validity of the legal ground that is nearly always given by doctors for approving an abortion - that it will improve the mental health of the mother.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Titanic survivor complains about threat to iceberg


Thanks to Neil Addison of the Religion Law Blog for passing on the Guardian video report on the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil and the pro-abortion demonstration last Friday. At the end, a pro-abortion campaigner has words that at once give encouragement to the pro-life cause, and at the same time teach us that for the pro-aborts, there just is no grasp of logic:
"I think that what we're seeing here is the biggest threat to reproductive rights in this country for over forty years.

I know what my mum fought for is now being threatened once again."
Reproductive rights, of course, means the "right" to terminate a baby's life in the womb. We are a long way from victory for the unborn, but it is good to hear that the 40 Days for Life peaceful prayer vigils have had such a major impact. May more babies survive to love their mothers.

The Guardian report is actually quite fair on the whole. This itself is an indication that the debate on abortion has moved on. I quite liked the bit where the reporter referred to this being the final stage of the 40 Days for Life "protest" and said with a professional presenting-both-sides voice that it "mainly seems to comprise of praying at the moment." Yes. That's all it has consisted of all the time actually. The talk of harassment and intimidation is grandstanding by the pro-aborts, in response to panicky propaganda from BPAS and Marie Stopes who are looking less confident than they have for a long time.

(When I was at Bedford Square one time, I saw the helmeted guy from the security company enter the building and come out a short while afterwards carrying one of those two foot long plastic secure note holders. Someone should get a photo of that.)

The Guardian video has footage of a pavement counsellor in Brighton whose approach is representative of those at all such events. Here's the dialogue:
Reporter: Is this the Wiston Clinic ?
Demonstrator: Yes can I give you some information before you go in
R: What is it ?
D: We're here to offer help and support if you feel you would like to reconsider. I don't know what you're going in for but; we're standing here [inaudible] options.
R: Do you work with the Clinic
D: No No. We don't work with the Clinic. We're 40 Days for Life. Some people come because they feel they have no other option. We're here to say if we can help or support you come and speak to us. Are you going to have a scan this morning ?
[end of segment]
So mainly praying, with a bit of offering help and support. Nobody's uterus or ovaries got harmed. Congratulations to 40 Days for Life and all those who were there on Friday.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

"I don't want my relatives to see Tony Nicklinson and think that's how I feel"

Bram Harrison, also known as DJ Eye Tech, suffered brain damage two weeks before his 21st birthday after falling head-first off his bicycle. Harrison, now 34, was left with locked-in syndrome; the only part of his body he can deliberately move are his eyes and eye lids. (See the report in the Independent: Locked in, but still lost in music: UK's bravest DJ

He can choose letters and words by blinking at them on a screen, is an acclaimed DJ, is known as a mischievous wit, has confidence in the advance of medical science, is currently learning Polish, and does not go along with the idea that he would be better off dead:
I've definitely not got the same view as Tony Nicklinson">Tony Nicklinson. I don't want people to think that locked-in syndrome is unbearable. I enjoy my rather limited life.
One thing I would add: he is also an evangelist for life.
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