Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Can you eat radish leaves?

Yes you can!
This I have discovered today when I asked myself that question.
I had a big bundle of organic radishes and was loathe to throw away such abundant and healthy looking greenery. I sought and found confirmation that radish leaves are indeed  healthy and deliciously edible..
Here is where I first landed. A panoply of radishy options for the frugal chef.
And this is what I did for supper:

Radish leaf pesto.

It was delicious. And frooogal!
Into my blender I threw the radish leaves (that would ordinarily have been binned)
a generous handful each of hazlenuts and almonds,
a remnant of Grana Padano that was too old and hard to be grated over pasta,
three cloves of garlic ( more than was called for in the recipe, but I love garlicky pesto)
and some glugs of extra virgin olive oil.
The smell! I was swooning!

I stirred the sticky, fragrant deliciousness  into some pasta along with peas and stood back and watched my family polish off the lot and beg for more raw radish leaf pesto pasta.
Can I add that pudding was a kefir smoothie into which I pitched the remnants of a leftover raspberry coulis,
one wrinkled peach ( mouldy bit cut off)
A kiwi fruit,
a few frozen strawberries and blueberries( I always buy the organic ones when they are on offer and freeze them straight away for smoothies)
a brown banana
and the remains of a tub of just expired double cream.
Again, the children begged, whined and pleaded for more.
Gentle reader, I feel complete.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Praying for my Parish Priest.

Lately I have been hearing some wonderful stories about the intercession of the saints.
One recent example is the story of baby James Fulton, on whose behalf parents and friends ( including long distance blog friends such as myself) sought the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

Now my Parish Priest, Fr Alan has cancer. In two places. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

In a recent letter to the parish  he said:
Now of course I have to practise what I preach! Yes, God speaks through events. So I hope I am hearing well everything he is saying to me through this unexpected illness.
And how often have I spoken about the cross!; saying that when it appears in our life, we should, like the crucified Christ, continue to call God Abba , Father. Now I hope this word will be fulfilled in me.
Early in 1999, when our former Archbishop, Cardinal Hume, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, Pope John-Paul II wrote to tell him of his prayer and support. He told the Cardinal that his illness had been allowed by the Lord in his ‘ALL-SEEING PROVIDENCE’.
It is with trust in this ‘all-seeing providence’ that I want to live these days and face the future.
I really hesitated to write this about myself, knowing that some of you know more about suffering, pain and illness than I do. But still, I wanted to share it with you.

You can read the whole thing  here. 

His illness is a blow to the entire parish, where he is his greatly loved and his  absence is being very keenly felt.
Encouraged however, by stories like that of baby James Fulton, I am
 praying for complete healing for Fr Alan, and asking specifically for the intercession of Blessed John Paul II.
Please would you consider printing out this short prayer and saying it devoutly for this intention?
And also it would be great if you would send it on to others,
I am hoping that we can storm heaven together for Fr Alan.
Please pass it on!

O Holy Trinity,
we thank you for having given to the Church
Pope John Paul II,
and for having made him shine with your fatherly tenderness,
the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love

He, trusting completely in your infinite mercy
and in the maternal intercession of Mary, has shown himself
in the likeness of Jesus the Good Shepherd
and has pointed out to us holiness
as the path to reach eternal communion with You.

Grant us, through his intercession,
according to your will, the grace that we implore:
Fr Alan's complete healing and a full return to health
in the hope that he will soon be numbered among your saints.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Twitter For Dummies

Another question for my fanbase*:

Does anyones know how Twitter works?

A few months ago I met Peter Williams of the video debate I posted a couple of days ago ( I'll post it again here because you all ought to watch it) . It was at a private parliamentary screening of a film called Doonby. (eek. I have long intended to do a blog post about that. More about Doonby later)
I recognised him, and congratulated him on his stellar performance in the debate and we high fived and fist bumped** and agreed to keep in touch. 
He suggested that I friend him on Facebook. I do have a Facebook account but I just don't use it, and I feel a bit, um, I don't know, "averse" to sending someone a friend request. 
Maybe I have been traumatised by too many playground rejections.

So I had a great idea and thought that I'd stalk him on Twitter for now. 
But I've found his Twitter account and it's not making any sense.
It's all him talking "@" other people.
But I can't see what the other people are saying.
It's like listening in to someones mobile phone conversation on the bus. Only worse, because the conversation comes in all sorts of truncated bits and pieces.
It's a mystery to me how Twitter has become so huge. I must be missing something. How come I can't work it out?
I'm feeling a bit thick, and that old funny, familiar, forgotten playground feeling is walking all over my mind. Again.
I need to get with the programme.
I want to get with the programe baby.
Can anyone out there explain the mystery of Twitter for a Twit like me?

Do yourself a favour and watch the debate. You'll thank me.

*Corapian irony! settle down!

**metaphorically speaking. This was the house of Commons and we were all tremendously on our best behaviour.

Difficulty with comments on Blogger?

Anyone else having problems?
I am having difficulty in posting comments elsewhere, and also in approving comments ( sorry Richard, I will approve your comment pronto, but at the moment "it" won't let me. I'm constantly getting bounced into an error message).
I've taken to copy pasting comments onto a notepad in advance so that I don't lose my finely crafted gems to the Blogger gremlin.
This has been going on for a while now. Anyone else experiencing this?

A little night music

Dominic introduced me to Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling and now I keep singing this song in my  head.
Dominic plays the guitar well, and I have asked him to let me record him singing this. He wasn't keen, even when I said I'd duet with him. The boy's shy.
Anyway, we sound exacty like this, except where Laura goes a bit flat here and there, I'm pitch perfect.
But this video will have to do because we are modest about our talents and shun the limelight.
So close your eyes and imagine this is me singing you a lullaby.

Corapi and Catholic tribalism

I saw this at Mark Sheas blog.
I think the response, at least initially, to Fr Corapi's fall from grace, did highlight a double standard amongst many conservative, orthodox catholic bloggers who had seen Corapi as one of their own.

When he was first suspended a comment I left on a blog was deleted because it was thought that it "may cause scandal",or "detraction"or words to that effect.
The blogger was convinced of his innocence and was also upset that EWTN had dropped him.
My offending comment expressed the view that when a priest dyes his beard and talks about his female personal trainer something is very wrong. Those two things were massive red flags for me.
They were also very public, Fr Corapi wasn't hiding his new black beard, and he openly spoke about his personal trainer.
I also got an anonymous comment telling me to "go to hell" after I had left a similar comment somewhere else.

Michael Voris of thevortexwhereliesandfalsehoodsaretrappedandexposed excoriated , the nasty uncharitable bloggers who had been critical of Corapis disobedience to his superiors. 
And this is the same Michael Voris of thevortexwhereliesandfalsehoodsaretrappedandexposed who routinely criticises bishops for not being obedient to their superior in Rome ( that would be the Pope).
I think the bloggers Voris was denouncing were, in fact, attempting to alert the "Corapians" to the  danger of following him over the edge of a cliff.

Some Catholic blogs seem to find their raison d'etre in Bishop bashing and in fault finding and heterodoxy hunting.
And yet Corapi got a pass, even when his behaviour was getting stranger and stranger and the warning klaxons were going off so loud you could barely hear what he was that melodramatic, manly man stage voice of his.
And yesterday he showed up in a  Harley Davidson leather jacket that screamed "male menopause", and a ridiculous dyed black merkin on his chin, and announced his next big idea for fleecing his sheep.
There's a fire sale at his old Fr Corapi website where you can bag your bargains quick, because when they're gone they're gone.
Oh and there's an autobiography in the works.
And his new website is branded with a dark demonic looking  creature that is  meant to be a black sheepdog, but is in fact a wolf, with an image of lambs reflected in one eye.
I think that says it all.

And so the metamorphosis from Fr Corapi to the grotesque Black Sheepdog  appears to  be complete.
At least it's brash and not subtle.
I'm thinking that Fumare's post of last year, comparing his new look to that of Anton LaVey was closer to the mark than any of us knew.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Some things I miss about our old evangelical CofE church

Are the wonderful times we had at annual church holiday week away by the sea.
And listening to J John, who was usually a headline speaker, which was always a joy.

I met him a couple of times in the canteen and was very struck by him as someone who is entirely authentic and determinedly "ordinary" in the very best sense of the word. 
I got the impression that he really did enjoy meeting and getting to know people. whoever they were.
I remember that he  bothered to chat with and get to know the name of the old gentleman who used to check our name tags as we went into the canteen.

I like that he doesn't appear to have an "on stage" persona or any odd rhetorical devices or flourishes, like a "stage voice" . He speaks well, but in his own voice, and doesn't  emotionally manipulate the audience with tricks.
I remain hugely impressed by him and I really think he is a great advert for that part of the Church of England which is very vibrant and exciting and far,far from the moribund  image that seems to get touted around in the press ( and unfortunately in some catholic blogs too).

Watch this and I'm sure you'll agree.

This is an excerpt, or rather a number of excerpts from his  excellent series on the ten commandments.

Friday, 8 July 2011

A video debate worth watching

Back in 2007/2008 I was moving towards a return to the church..
I was also still attending a small midweek bible study in a friends house.
My Catholic leanings were preturbing a couple of the ladies there who tried to help me to see the grave mistake they felt I was making.
For a while, every week I got a new challenge or a tract offered to me to read.
I always agreed cheerfully to read the tracts and listen to the objections. I still have one which is called "The Error of Rome".
I went away and read it and looked up all the references and claims  and searched for the Catholic rebuttals to see if they could hold water.
The following week I would return the tract with little pencil markings and notes in the margins and explain what I had learned about the catholic position as a result of researching the claims made in the tract.
Over the weeks the warmth and friendship of these two women, and the keen interest they had shown in me started to cool to a quiet froideur.
They became disinterested in me to the point of rudeness.
When I cracked a joke, they no longer even smiled ( such iron self control! )
I was hurt by their coldness towards me and felt, and still do, that their earlier interest in me had been because they saw me as another scalp for their collection of people they had managed to get "saved".
They were, I think, angry with me for not responding to their challenges in the way they had hoped and expected I would.
In fact, to their frustration, each challenge seemed to be driving me further into the bosom of Rome, or, more correctly (in their view) to the Whore of Babylon.
I'm pretty sure that I'm right in guessing that their friendship was conditional on me accepting their message, and when they saw that I wasn't compliant, they washed their hands of me.
Both of them were baptised Catholics themselves and had considerable personal issues and anger with the Catholic church.
But many of their objections were just not intellectually credible. Often the pieces they gave me to read were badly written and flaky. When we had a discussion they quickly got heated up and emotional and so I have few memories of any really rational or interesting exchanges.

I wasn't angry or hurt by their attempts to save me from Popery. I felt that they probably sincerely felt my soul was in peril and were trying to help me. I was more hurt by their stubborn refusal to have a proper discussion about it and their subsequent cold shouldering of me.
It seemed to me that they just wanted me to be persuaded by the strength of their second hand arguments without putting any effort in themselves.
They wanted to tell me that the Popes hat was fashioned after the pagan fish god "Dagon" ( or dagon the pagon to his mates) and for me to simply accept that and ask no further questions.
I'm not  an intellectual snob, I'm not even an intellectual, but it was all so unintelligent.
Some of it was unintelligent to the point of being cretinously stupid.

Nothing is wasted though, and it was a very useful time.
I learned a bit about some key anti catholic influences.
typically the same sources would crop up: The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop, A Woman Rides The Beast by Dave Hunt and Roman Catholicism by Loraine Boettner.
After those weeks of back and forth in the bible study home group, I had covered most of the key objections to  Catholicism and I can honestly say I gave the objections a fair crack of the whip.
The more I read, the more impressed I was by the coherence and scriptural solidity of Catholic doctrine.
It was very helpful to me in helping me to explore some difficult questions and to see if they held up under scrutiny. They did.

At around the time of the Popes visit last year, I saw this video on the Catholic Voices website.
I have been meaning to post it here ever since, but  it just stayed at the bottom of the "to do" pile.
I finally found it and watched it again tonight with the husband and one of the boys.
It is a debate between Duncan Boyd of the Protestant Truth Society and  Peter Williams, a "Catholic Voice".
The motion under debate is "We believe the Popes visit will be good for this country". Which was a little strange to me as it was pretty obvious that that was not a sentiment shared by the Revelation TV studio audience .
I was hugely impressed by the way Peter handled himself in this discussion. The audience was overwhelmingly on the side of his pugnacious opponent, who only needed to shift in his seat, or cross his legs to get a round of applause.
There were only three catholics in the audience. I know that because one of them was a friend of ours ( he makes a point about the deuterocanonical books at about 00.53)
Many hoary old anti catholic chestnuts were tossed around and Peter Williams deals with each one with the  efficiency and poise of a champion batsman.
I got the impression that most of the audience weren't really listening and had turned up expecting to see their man hitting some easy and straightforward home runs and giving the catholic a scripture lesson he wouldn't forget.
I'm pretty sure they weren't expecting to see the rather haughty Mr Boyd of the Protestant Truth Society being put so firmly on the back foot.
And to see it done with such good grace and finesse, well, for me it was just a pleasure.
 Even a particularly aggressive question from the audience at 01.22 fails to throw him and he responds with the same  patient good grace.
It's well worth watching, and learning from. I hope we see more of Peter Williams.

Catholic Voices: Peter Williams debates in Revelation TV from Jack Valero on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Put not your trust in princes,

Fr Corapi

I can't find the post which Terry Nelson put up which first alerted me to his dramatically altered appearance.
But when I saw it I was stunned and couldn't believe that so few people seemed bothered by it.
I couldn't have been more shocked if Mother Angelica had had a boob job and botox.

After reading Terry's post I saw this one which gives a composite picture of his changing appearance over the last 10 years.
Maybe, behind the scenes, his superiors were frantically worried about him and trying to help.
Who knows, but I hope they were.
Aa a commenter  on the Fumare blog calling himself "Warning Signs" presciently opined:
When ministers and priests are into their looks and themselves, trouble is ahead. Sad, sad, very sad.
So when the news broke that he had been suspended I was not surprised.
What surprised me more, was the tenacious defensiveness of those who Fr. Corapi refers to as his "fans".
How could anyone liken a priest with a California tan, a dyed goatee and a personal trainer to St Pio of Pietrelcina?
Fr Corapi was the darling of conservative catholics.
I observed a double standard in the blogosphere among some who are routinely, sharply critical of ecclesiastical  authorities and normally happy to name and shame woolly liberal prelates for liturgical infractions.
A great deal more benefit of the doubt was extended to Fr Corapi, even when the evidence was becoming overwhelming.

I don't know what happened to Fr Corapi, but I don't believe "the devil did it" .
At least not in such a simplistic way.
We are free moral agents.
We co operate in our fall from grace.
And this is what clutches at my guts like a cold hand when I consider it.
Every day brings a thousand different ways in which I chose to conform myself to Christ,or the world.
And I cannot say with confidence, that at the end of each day the balance is tipped in my favour.

I am sincerely praying for John Corapi tonight. Perhaps this humbling is the mercy of God towards him.
I hope, for the sake of his soul,  that he accepts this mortification from Gods hand and throws himself on the mercy of Christ while he still has time.
I'm praying for priests . They need our prayers and I am sorry that I neglect to pray for them as I should.
I intend to remedy that and make them, along with my children, my priority.
We need holy priests.
More than ever I appreciate the quiet and hidden sacrifice of the ordinary and outwardly unexceptional priest.

And I am praying for myself too, that I am able to throw off every encumbrance and run the race that has been marked out for me.
It scares me how quickly I become lazy and satisfied.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

A little post to be going on with

Colmcille made his first Holy Communion on the feast of Corpus Christi.
We actually were all very cheerful about it despite the above photo which looks as though it was taken after we'd been given some bad news.
I'm sure there are better photos, ones in which we look more perky and animated , but this  is all I have for now. It is one that a friend sent us since we didn't get round to taking any ourselves.
There was one designated photographer who was allowed to take photos during the Mass, and took some nice group shots afterwards, but we haven't received those yet.
The night before I finished reading the story of Blessed Imelda Lambertini to Colmcille.
She's the little patron of first communicants since she died in ectasy following her first communion.
When I got to that bit I did wonder if it was a slightly strange story to be reading a boy about to recieve the Blessed Sacrament for the first time.
But Colmcille didn't seem a bit bothered by young Imelda's demise at the tender age of eleven.
His eyes grew big and round and he gasped "She died of joy!"
Which was just the ticket and reassured me that my choice of story wasn't going to put a dampner on his big day and make him lose sleep worrying whether he might actually make it to his second Holy Communion.
Needless to say Colmcille did not die of joy himself,  but he was very emotional and had a little cry which then made Pat and I shed a litle tear too.

It was an emotional day for us also, because our beloved parish priest, Fr Alan, who is being treated for cancer, returned to say mass just for the occasion.
It was a momentous act of love, given his very frail state of health at the moment. He looked pale and tired. And yet, his preaching, although with a little less vigour, was every bit as stirring as ever. Without any rhetorical device or flourish, and just a quiet certitude he makes the Word come alive.
When he preaches I am reminded of the unwitting companions of Jesus on the road to Emmaus, who reflected that their hearts burned within them when the scriptures were explained.

Please, please pray for him.

Here is an excerpt from his letter to the parish in which he explains his current circumstances.
Now of course I have to practise what I preach! Yes, God speaks through events. So I hope I am hearing well everything he is saying to me through this unexpected illness.
And how often have I spoken about the cross!; saying that when it appears in our life, we should, like the crucified Christ, continue to call God Abba , Father. Now I hope this word will be fulfilled in me.
Early in 1999, when our former Archbishop, Cardinal Hume, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, Pope John-Paul II wrote to tell him of his prayer and support. He told the Cardinal that his illness had been allowed by the Lord in his ‘ALL-SEEING PROVIDENCE’.
It is with trust in this ‘all-seeing providence’ that I want to live these days and face the future.
I really hesitated to write this about myself, knowing that some of you know more about suffering, pain and illness than I do. But still, I wanted to share it with you.
Meanwhile, you are being treated to a wonderful variety of priests celebrating Mass in Ogle Street. They will be rewarded.
I want to give a special word of thanks to Vincent Harrington, who in my absence has truly become our ‘Parish Administrator’. He will be rewarded too!
Dear Brothers and Sisters, again I thank you and continue to count on your prayer, love and support. I hope that in his ‘all-seeing providence’ the Lord will make it possible for me to return to the parish soon.
Dear Jesus, Divine Physician and Healer of the sick, we turn to you in this time of illness. O dearest comforter of the troubled, alleviate our worry and sorrow with your gentle love, and grant Fr Alan the grace and strength to accept this burden. Dear God, we place our worries in your hands. We place Fr Alan under your care and humbly ask that you restore your servant to health again. Above all, grant us the grace to acknowledge your will and know that whatever you do, you do for the love of us. Amen. 

St Charles Borromeo
St Therese of Liseux
St Jean Marie Vianney
St Peregrine
St Pio
St Philomena
Blessed John Paul II

Pray for him.

A plague on my laptop

Just a brief post to say that normal service will be resumed pronto.
My laptop was afflicted with all manner of worms and trojans and bears oh my!
Well, I'm making up the bears, but the trojans and worms were apparently real, and they did the divil of a job on my machine.
Ghastly business.
Were it not for a visiting young seminarian friend who happens to be a bit handy with 'puters I might still be in blogging limbo.
I shudder to think...