Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Back to Cwmyoy

I found a lovely homemade video on YouTube of a Lance and a Peter walking in the area I was in yesterday along with Ben and Bernie (watch the video!). It's seven minutes of slightly rainy film that captures this part of the Black Mountains perfectly. By the way at this moment (8.30pm) we are just two visitors short of passing April as the most visited month at the Canon's Stall. Come on now - spread the word, the Canon's Stall is open to all!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Beauty under the Black Mountains

After the busy-ness of our 3 Churches Mass yesterday, I was invited to spend a day out in the beautiful countryside north of Abergavenny. After a coffee in the new-ish and very nice caff in the precincts of the (now Anglican) old Priory Church in the town, where we bumped into the vicar, we set off into the depths of the country to find St Martin's Cwmyoy.
This lovely old church is perched on a hillside and severely afflicted with a very bad case of subsidence. The tower leans at an angle worse than Pisa and there's not a right angle in the whole place. Inside, as long as you don't feel queazy with the lack of straight lines, all is calm and ancient. Beautiful. I won't divulge the name of the pub between Cwmyoy and Llanfihangel Crucorney where we were refused lunch at 1.40pm even though it was advertised as available until 2. They were already cooking for four apparently. Bless...
Instead, we pressed on to the equally beautiful St Issui's at Patrishow, which was even more alone on its hillside. Here the most famous attraction is its astonishing rood-screen. Before the Reformation most churches had a screen separating the nave, where the people were, from the altar area. This one survived the wreckers of the Reformation and is a totally virtuoso display of woodcarver's skill. The delicacy and intricacy are amazing. In my picture notice too another very rare survival, the two side altars in front of the screen, complete with consecration crosses cut into the stone altar-tables. If you haven't seen these two churches, take a trip this summer - but make sure you have a good map!

p.s. I will not divulge either the name of the large and rather self-important-looking pub on the road out of Abergavenny towards Pontypool where we couldn't get any food at 3.15. Was that an unreasonable request in this day and age?

My pics show Cwmyoy across its valley, the leaning tower and topsyturvy interior, and then the screen at Patrishow.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Our Road to Emmaus

Just a quick posting as it's late! Our 3 Churches Mass happened this morning, and I think it went very well. It's great to see so many gathered together, and everyone worked hard in carrying out their part. The idea of weaving the story of the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus worked excellently, and Mark and Chris played the parts so well. The music, under Les, was so good that a lot of the congregation seemed to leave it all to them! For me the high point , if that's the right word, was the Eucharistic Prayer, which I suppose is only right as it's the very heart of the Mass. There seemed to be a beautiful and peaceful intensity in Corpus Christi Hall at that moment, and perhaps we caught just a small glimpse of what happened late on that Easter night...

Friday, 26 June 2009

Baltics, Billie Jean and Big Sunday

Well, it's Baltic Republics here we come. I managed to iron out the flights details,and so I'll be off at the end of July. I'll do some digging around to see if there's any likelihood of doing a little family tree business when I'm in Klaipeda.
Meanwhile, big news last night and today is the death of Michael Jackson. What a strange human being. I love some of his songs, especially from the 1980's. "Beat It", "Bille Jean", "Black and White" and others really are pop classics, as the media say. But what about Jackson the person? From the colour of his skin to the goings on at his home, to the inner goings on of his mind, he was surely a true mystery. I'm sure it's all got a lot to with his bizarre childhood, but that doesn't seem to explain everything, does it?
I was up at Corpus Christi for last minute preparations for our 3 Churches Mass this afternoon. It's looking good, and I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully I'll see some of you there...

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Airfare warfare

For heaven's sake - don't you hate the way that airfares keep on changing, usually in an upward direction?! As I blogged a week ago, I'm trying to get to the Baltic countries this summer. My great-grandfather came from Memel, East Prussia, now Klaipeda, Lithuania. I've found a nice tour that takes it in, with an OK price. My intention was to book tomorrow, but the bloke just emailed me to say the airfare had shot up. I went online to check for myself, and within five minutes it had come down again! I suppose all this is automated - or are there people sitting at computers in all the airline offices rubbing their hands as they mess people's plans up. "Hehehehe let's slap on another hundred quid to Estonia - and then take it off again. Hehehehe!" Hopefully, things will be a little calmer tomorrow when I move in for the kill...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Sunday - part two

Sunday was a busy one, even more than usual. We had 3 lots of Baptisms, two at St B and one at C the K. I did the one at Christ the King, and it was great to see a pretty full church, and lots of people who actually knew what a Baptism was! I will put on here sometime a few scary stories about Baptisms I've encountered...
Then in the afternoon we had something special - Sung Vespers and Benediction. This was a joint venture between ourselves and St Edward's Church in Wales in Blenheim Road, where one of our parishioners sings in the choir on Sunday evenings. We'd been planning it for quite a while, but it was worth waiting for. The 50-60 who were there had a treat, and the rest of you missed something out of the ordinary! Yours truly was celebrant and therefore had some sung parts to do, especially the initial Latin "Deus in adjutorium meum intende" (O God come to our aid), which I did at full volume, as I did the Collect prayer for Benediction later. The combined singers gave excellent accounts of, among other things, a Thomas Tallis "Magnificat" and a Palestrina setting of "Tantum Ergo." I was wafted back to my years in St David's Cathedral choir in the 60s. The music was beautiful and the worship consequently deep. I couldn't find any of the pieces on YouTube, so here is Andrew Johnson at Carlisle Cathedral singing a different Magnificat, by Victorian composer Charles Villiers Stanford, that we used to sing in the Cathedral. A piece for treble, choir and organ, it still gets me...

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Something bigger...

This weekend at Christ the King I preached on Trust, and after Holy Communion read an extract from the writings of Ruth Burrows, the English Carmelite. Some people asked me to put it here on the blog, so here it is...
"Surrender and abandonment are like a deep, inviting, frightening ocean into which we are drawn. We make excursions into it to test it, to see whether it’s safe, to enjoy the sensation of it. But, for all kinds of reasons, we always go back to dry land, to solid ground, to where we are safe. But the ocean beckons us out anew and we risk again being afloat in something bigger than ourselves. And we keep doing that, wading in and then going back to safety, until one day, when we are ready, we just let the waters carry us away."

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Celebrating the school, discerning the deacons, praying for the priests

A good day yesterday - lovely Anniversary Mass at Christ the King School. The children excelled themselves in every way, a wonderful reflection on the dedication of all the staff. I'm glad Julie Morgan MP and Jonathan Morgan MEP were there to see Catholic education at its best! The Archbishop was fantastic with the kids - they had a great question and answer thing going on between them which was a joy to behold. Coffee and cake afterwards - a great morning.
In the afternoon I was with Archbishop Peter again and two others, interviewing a candidate for the permanent diaconate. As with all the other men and their wives that we've accepted -we now have 15 ministering in our diocese - I was so impressed by this one too. We were all particularly touched by his dedication to family life, including family prayer. After 30 minutes his wife joined us, and added her own joyful personality to the proceedings. Great couple, great faith, great candidate.
Then in the evening we hosted at St Brigid's the annual Sacred Heart Mass for adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. And they came from all over, including a bus and minibus from Pontypridd and Pontypool. This year we were marking the beginning of the Year of the Priesthood. We put up boards with the names of all the priests of the diocese, and distributed slips of paper with individual names on, for the people to pray for every day in this Year of the Priesthood. It was a great Mass followed by a "Holy Half Hour" until 9, beautifully led by Fr gareth Leyshon. I'll be putting up lots more on the Year as it continues, so keep an eye out. If you have any ideas how we can celebrate the Year of the Priesthood - well put your comments on here...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Nothing like it

A bit of a manic day, folks, mostly because of upcoming special celebrations like a) tomorrow's Anniversary Mass at Christ the King School, b) the Sacred Heart Mass in the evening at St Brigid's, c) Sunday's Sung Vespers and Benediction at St Brigid's and, of course d) our 3 Churches Mass on 28th June at Corpus Christi. In amongst this I met with someone regarding one of this year's marriages, and with a couple with regard to one of next year's marriages. I completed (late) my part of our weekly newsletter getting it off to ever-patient editor Luke - and with all of this found time to spend 6 hours or so with my sister and brother-in-law. I'm very close to my family, and we had a lovely lunch out. In the restaurant (not a million miles from here) we had what was described as an Italian bread salad with all kinds of extras. The extras were very nice, but the bread consisted of two crunchy bits the size of 10p pieces. Then we repaired to Penarth, where there was nowhere to park, and finally took consolation in an ice-cream down at the Bay. Toffee flavour, bit watery, but yummy. Luckily, a cup of tea back home before saying goodbye - made by yours truly - was perfection...

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

In memory of George

In my family tree all my dad's side were Welsh, on my mum's side they came over from Ireland 150 years ago at the time of the potato famine. With the exception of my great-grandfather George, who came from East Prussia, in fact, so far east that it's now in Lithuania. This summer I'm toying with the idea of visiting the Baltic countries, including Lithuania, and I've found a tour that takes in two nights at the town where we believe George came from. It was called Memel then, but now it's called Klaipeda. I made enquiries today about the tour, and I'm waiting for the details to be emailed to me. As I'm very familiar with the places where my father's ancestors came from in Wales, and have been to the ones my mother's people came from in Ireland, I think it would be good to just visit the missing link in my group of "ancestral homes"...

George evenually drowned in Cardiff Docks, and this is the report from the Cardiff Times of 24th December 1881. Patrick O'Brien, George's brother-in-law, was still alive when my mother was a girl. He was a fiery character already in 1881, as you can see from the report. Good for him! I always think of great-grandfather George when going past County Hall.

"DROWNED IN DOCKS – INQUEST - Mr Grover, the deputy coroner, held an inquest on Tuesday afternoon in the Town-Hall touching the death of George Goodwin, a rigger, 40 yrs. of age, of 19 Herbert Street, who was drowned in the docks on Saturday afternoon. The evidence of a man named MacQueen, who was on board the barque, Governor Langdon, of Liverpool, at the time of the occurrence, was to the effect that deceased was employed mooring the barque, which was 40 or 50 yards away, to the south buoy in the East Dock, and for this purpose he was in a small boat near the spot named. A steamer, described by MacQueen as the Amazonas, of Sunderland, broke away from her moorings – a violent gale blowing at the time – and ran over the small boat and buoy. Deceased was drowned, and the jury, after hearing the evidence, returned a verdict that his death was the result of an accident. A brother –in-law of the deceased, named Patrick O’Brien, who had given evidence of identification, protested that this was not justice, but the coroner explained that if he wished to bring an action against anyone, he must do so in another court. "

Monday, 15 June 2009

Father M gets blog-savvy

I just found out how to embed a video in a blog posting. So here's the one I gave a link to in my last posting

God in the streets

To follow yesterday's Feast of Corpus Christi, take a look at an event in New York, when God goes out on the streets... It's a short video that begs all kinds of questions.
In Cardiff we often hear of the famous Corpus Christi Procession which was held until 1994. In its last five years Archbishop Ward appointed me chairman of the committee that ran it - not a popular agenda! We have to be careful when looking back. When folks remember Corpus Christi they tend to be thinking of its heyday up until about the 1970s. There were all kinds of problems bearing in on it by the 1980s, from both within the Catholic community and from outside. Some parts of our archdiocese hold local deanery celebrations nowadays. When we are told we are all bringers of the Good News, and called to be witnesses to our faith, are Eucharistic processions a good way? Does Jesus wish to go out in this way on the streets of Cardiff too? What do you think?

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Come, let us worship

A very happy feast day of Corpus Christi to everybody. We celebrated a beautiful First Holy Communion this morning in St Brigid's, while Fr James led the Thanksgiving Mass at Christ the King for their First Holy Communion children. Don't forget the special Mass this Friday 7.30 at St B's for those who spend time in adoration - and everybody else! This year we are marking the beginning of the Year of the Priesthood.
After Vatican II there was, rightly, a great emphasis on the celebration of the Mass, as opposed to the abiding Presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. However, I am of the opinion that this sometimes has led to a misunderstanding of the role and importance of Eucharistic Adoration. As with our loved ones, sometimes we are "active" - we celebrate, embrace, chat, journey and so on. Sometimes, however, we just sit quietly, with no needs for words, just being present to one another. In fact, isn't that a test of love, when we feel perfectly comfortable in just "being"? In Adoration Jesus is really present to us - can we do likewise?

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Religious life - alive and certainly kicking

There are several new religious orders about that most people have never heard of. At our recent REFRESH weekend we were very happy to welcome two Friars of the Renewal from Bradford. This excellent Franciscan order were only founded in New York a few decades ago but now have 120 members. I came across a very good video about them today that you can catch here. They also have their own website here, which has lots of beautiful pictures and videos in it. So, let's start a prayer campaign for them to start a house in our diocese,OK?

Friday, 12 June 2009

Books, caffs, and monks' bones rattling

Popped in town yesterday to do a few bits 'n' pieces, and I eventually got down to the new library. In case you don't know, they pulled down the Old New Library for the St David's 2 Shopping Centre. The New New Library is on the former car park in front of the Marriott Hotel. It's 5 floors inside, very airy and spacious with loads of seating and loads of computer terminals, more or less all of which were occupied yesterday. I remember reading in the paper a while ago how many thousands of books they got rid of at the transfer, and although there are 5 floors, it didn't seem to me that there were a huge number of books on display. Ummm about 7 out of 10 I think.

After a cappuccino at the coffee shop in Borders Bookshop (pretty tasteless 5 out of 10) I checked whether any more units in Morgan Arcade were vacant or taken (cf. an earlier posting). St Mary Street and its surrounds seem to be slowly sliding into being a backwater, with its southern end, of course, more or less completely given over to weekend evening entertainment. I'm not sure what the Benedictine monks who looked after the original St Marys Church just past Wood Street would think!! For most of Cardiff's history St Mary St/High Street has been the bustling heart of the city... Everything changes - can you believe it, even the layout in the Menswear on the 2nd floor in M & S has been altered and their caff has migrated down a floor (slow service, nice coffee - but already had one yesterday - see above!)

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

1911 census now available

One of my interests is family history. I've developed a huge family tree over the last eight years, including one Baptist Minister, one Congregational one and two Calvinist Methodist ones! This week the 1911 census for Glamorgan was put on the web. There are so many people tracing their history nowadays that they didn't wait the normal 100 years for publication this time. The English counties have been online for a while, and now they've turned to Wales. You can see the 1911 census here, but beware - to see actual entries you have to buy credits. Then you can see a transcript for 10 credits or an image of the original for 30. While that's expensive, they are all saved for you automatically, and as the 1911 census was the first that involved the householder filling in a form, you can see your forebears' handwriting. I've got a lot of genealogy resources, so if you need any help, let me know! The pic shows the old church at Llangyndeyrn, Carmarthenshire, where my great-great-great grandparents in my direct Jones line, Daniel and Emiah Jones, were married in 1814.

Monday, 8 June 2009

A very special Good Friday

I came across another beautiful YouTube video this evening that I wanted to share. The Abbey of Chevetogne was founded in Belgium in the early 20th century. Although it is a Benedictine monastery, and therefore part of our Western (or Latin) tradition, from the beginning it had an ecumenical emphasis - at a very early date. In particular, the monastery would worship in both Latin and Byzantine traditions, and, indeed has two churches for the purpose.
They have made many CDs of their Byzantine chant, and this video shows scenes in the church and then a little of their Good Friday Vespers, where they venerate not a cross as we do, but an icon of Christ lying on a special table. The image is scattered with rose petals, one of which is then given to each person who comes up to kiss the image. The combination of chant, veneration and photography is, I think, extremely moving. Relax and enter the worship.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

A good lunch

One of my little "sidelines" is being chaplain to the Cardiff Circle of the Catenians. Well, in fact most of the members are from our 3 churches anyway, and in particular from Christ the King. You can read about the Catenians here and about our Cardiff Circle of the Catenians here. They come in for a bit of flak sometimes, mainly I think from people who do not know much about them. I find the Cardiff Circle, at least, a great bunch of men, very welcoming, very loyal Catholics - and very good for a fine lunch on President's Sunday, which it was today! New President Ceri kindly invited James and myself once more to come along, and we had a lovely meal at a local hotel. It's great to be ecumenical like at last Sunday's Pentecost Walk & Picnic, but there's also a place for a Catholic get-together like REFRESH or the Catenians. It all helps to give each other support and so build one another up in life and faith. The pic shows a previous Catenians event with the new President Ceri and Pat on the left, then me and other guests including my "boss" Archbishop Peter...

Friday, 5 June 2009

Spires and stones

Had a day off today, and took a trip down to Salisbury, where I haven't been for many years. Of course, these fine old English county towns don't change, and their beautiful cathedrals certainly don't! And then, to add to the beautiful building and weather today, there was a choir inside the cathedral practising Mozart's Requiem for a concert. The Requiem would be among my Desert Island Discs, and I had to sit and wait for them to sing one of my favourite parts, the Lacrymosa. Stunning. If you're not familiar with it, have a listen here. After lunch in the Cathedral Refectory and a wander, we set off for Stonehenge, which, amazingly, I've never visited before. Suddenly, there it was on the horizon, looking mysterious and impressive. We parked and made our way through the tunnel to the site and, well, actually, if I'm honest, I was a bit disappointed. The traffic on the A303 is horrendous, and I can see why there have been several plans for improvements, including burying the road in a tunnel. The visitor is, understandably, kept a good distance from the stones, which seemed a little smaller than I had imagined. You know, I think I prefer Stonehenge's rival Callanish on the island of Lewis in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. Close up, I just didn't feel much at Stonehenge. If you're down that way, my suggestion is to drive on by, catching a much more atmospheric and tantalizing glimpse...

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

The lads in the vineyard

I've seen a lot of other priests these last two days. Yesterday we took the process of looking at the future of the Church in our city a stage further. All the Cardiff priests spent 10.30-3.00 together at the Pastoral Centre. We spent most of the time in groups, discussing the document that has been produced to summarise the submissions from all the parishes in answer to the 5 Questions discussed in the parishes in February. There was a level of agreement, accepting the need for greater cooperation in some kind of groupings - zones, areas or whatever. What level of cooperation and how many groupings - there was difference of opinion.

Today I attended my regular Fraternity of Priests fortnightly meeting, this time at St Mary's, Canton, hosted by Fr Andy Bord. Andy always puts a lot into planning the First Hour, 12-1, which is our prayer time. There was a choice of beef or veg for lunch - but most of us mixed the two together! Then for the Third Hour we repaired to Andy's room for some discussion and sharing. The Year of Priesthood begins in a few weeks, and we are thinking and praying about how we can mark it and contribute to it. Maybe blog readers have ideas about how we could thank our priests/pray for them and for vocations/ learn about priesthood. I would like to be able to think that we can do something good in our diocese. Don't forget the special Mass at St Brigid's on the first day of the Year, 19th June, the Feast of the Sacred Heart 7.30pm.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Bustin' June

A little bit of fun for the first day of June - and another beautiful day! And here's a summery picture of Rhossili Bay on the Gower.