The very best company

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Wise words from a man of prayer!

Of course one cannot copy former times absolutely, but one should try to recover precious treasures, one of which is the Liturgy, with its clear Godward direction, which is so important in the contemplative life! Many people do not realize, that it is also a question of the fullness of Faith, where we may not pick and choose. The Faith must be respected and cherished in its entirety. There are many topics of discussion in the Catholic Church, but something of great urgency is basic catechesis, which covers the Creed and everything which constitutes our Faith. We neglect what belonged to it from the beginning, and therefore belongs to it now and will belong to it in the future. The revival of Tradition can help to put an end to this threat. It can gain acceptance for the Faith in its fullness. In all this, I am encouraged by what I discover in the Scriptures: it is a matter of nothing less than the Truth, of Reality, which does not depend on majority opinion. I am reminded of Moses. He was often in dire straits, indeed, they wanted to stone him. And sometimes, I think of this or that prophet in ancient Israel, who was similarly treated. It gives one comfort and confidence, just to consider their steadfastness. The truth does not have an easy time, but it comes from God, indeed, God Himself is Truth, not in the abstract, but in a highly concrete personal form: Christ Himself. Let me say it once again: Truth does not depend on majority opinion. And we see this in Christ Himself, in Our Lord. He Himself was not moved by majority opinion. So we find ourselves in the very best company!

Send forth Thy light and Thy truth

Hi guys *sad face*, I’m home from visiting the shrine in New Brighton, the ‘Dome of Home’, the shrine church of SS. Peter, Paul and Philomena. I’m sad that I couldn’t stay forever but my friend, Adam, and I had the best time! Everything went so well and we felt blessed to be able to enjoy ourselves so much. Most of all, it was an honour to be able to witness the mass, and everything that comes with it, done so well, given that we had not fought for it all these years. We just waltzed it and reaped the rewards of 40+ years of battling for the Old Rite.

Apart from Lauds on the first day, we went to everything, including a little social after Sunday mass. It is a wonderful parish and I think it will continue to grow, especially with priests like Canon Montjean at the helm.

You can see from the photos that the church itself is impressive and well-kept by the Institute of Christ the King. Despite the ongoing  restoration work, I think it looks very good.



Canon Montjean also has a deacon from the Institute there with him who I believe is called Francis but everyone called him ‘Abbé’. As in the past, I found that these traditional priests were extremely warm and friendly (though people might expect them to be uptight because of their attachment to the Old Rite). After mass on the first day, almost the whole congregation went into the presbytery for tea and biscuits and everyone made us feel at home. Also, after vespers, Canon invited us to have a drink and to chat with him, which was wonderful because I don’t think that either of us had ever spoken very much with a priest from the ICK. We really felt that we could be at ease with him and I think that’s very important, because priests need to help us so much to get heaven, so we must be able to be open with them. Sadly, I find that many priests keep us at arm’s length and that is a real shame.

Adam with Canon Montjean

Adam with Canon Montjean

For our sins, Adam and I also went to visit the Metropolitan Cathedral in the centre of Liverpool (the tabernacle seems almost hidden, so in case you do go, it’s directly behind the altar, so genuflect in that general direction). We had a quick look around the main church and then went downstairs to the Crypt and ogled all the amazing old ciboriums, chalices, patens, thuribles and vestments etc. that are kept down there. We came to the conclusion that priests must have been very strong to lift the chalices and monstrances that were down there and Canon said that priests have to be very strong, which may or may not have been a serious comment. It costs £3 to go into the Crypt, but it’s definitely well worth it. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any photos of the chalices and so on, so you will just have to go see for yourself.

The old Crypt of the cathedral which was used as the cathedral before the monstrosity upstairs was built.

The old Crypt of the cathedral which was used as the cathedral before the monstrosity upstairs was built.


What happened to the idea of a good old fashioned Crucifix? I find this confusing as well as ugly.

If you do go, I must advise you to visit this bakery/tea shop that we stopped at: It is just down the road from the cathedral and it was lovely. I have a lot of experience when it comes to eating cakes, so you can trust me on this one. They do a delicious tomato soup too! Phwoah.

Finally, when it came to Sunday mass, Adam and I somehow found ourselves in the choir, which you have to laugh at. The lady that I was singing with kept asking me, “Do you know this one or this one?” and each time, I would respond that I did not, but I would give it a go! Anyway, luckily they had some very strong singers in the choir, so we sort of faded into the background. I was literally saying a prayer each time we sang, because I was so afraid that my croaky voice would carry across the church to those serving on the altar!


The altar dedicated to Our Lady

After mass, there was a nice social with mince pies, sandwiches, mulled wine and all the rest of it. The Canon’s birthday was the next day and he finds it very funny that the Wirral’s mascot is the badger, because apparently badgers are synonymous with crazy people in France. So, of course, one of the servers somehow found a giant badger suit and crept up on him! Canon found it so funny that he put the badger head on himself. He is really laid back! No wonder his congregation are so fond of him.

Adam had to leave after the social but I was lucky enough to be offered a lift to Chester so that I didn’t have to leave until after Sunday Vespers, Rosary and Benediction, so I got to eke out my stay a little longer, for which I was very thankful.

We hope to go back very soon and we were so sad to leave! If you can, please do go and visit. We stayed at a wonderful (and very reasonably priced) B&B called Sherwood Guesthouse. The beds were comfy, the rooms were warm and very nicely decorated and there was a tasty and filling breakfast in the morning too!

My First Chartres Experience

Last year, I took part in my very first pilgrimage: the LMS pilgrimage to visit the shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham. This year, I decided to make the jump between that and the Chartres pilgrimage. I had heard many things about Chartres: some said it wasn’t so bad, you just had to “keep walking”, others said it was hellish (oh dear…). However, all agreed that it was worth it, that the feeling you got after completing it was like nothing else. Even those who had felt like giving up on the first day were now booking their place once again this year. I decided that I was up for the challenge.

The British contingent was separated into two chapters: Our Lady of Walsingham (for the older pilgrim) and the Juventutem chapter, whose patron saint would be St Alban. Being 24,

Fr Withoos (Left with v. interesting cotta) and Deacon Mark slightly to his right. Fr Rowe with the maniple on the right. Fr. Redman with the biretta on in the background and Fr Gideon (just seen) to the right of Fr Bede. All wonderful.

Fr Withoos (Left with v. interesting cotta) and Deacon Mark slightly to his right. Fr Rowe with the stole folded on his arm on the right (I did say before it was a maniple, but, on reflection, I think it is a folded stole…I think). Fr. Redman with the biretta on in the background and Fr Gideon (just seen) to the right of Fr Bede. All wonderful.

I was in the Juventutem chapter. Behind our chapter, we had a group of pilgrims from the Chavagnes school in France, led by a much loved priest who was one of our chaplains at Walsingham last year: Fr Bede Rowe. At one point, when some of us (including myself) were lagging behind, Fr Rowe decided to stage a ‘hostile takeover’ and chased us down the road with his chapter, shouting “Jog on! Jog on!” (yes, this really happened)! This tactic worked and we had caught up with everyone else in a matter of minutes.

Our chapter was also blessed to have two priests. Our priests were Fr Withoos and Fr Gideon, who heard confessions every day. Knowing that Pope Pius XII went to confession every day (and what a holy man he was), I tried to take advantage of having this sacrament on tap while I was there. The priests also read out meditations, sang hymns with us and generally gave us advice; we were so thankful to have them with us. In fact, one of the best things about the pilgrimage was seeing priests walking around in cassocks and nuns in habits (and not a polyester skirt in sight)! Oh, happy day!

Now, for the walking…the first day was, dare I say it, fairly easy.  I believe it consisted of about 27 miles, but I didn’t really feel it. I think I was just so delighted to be praying the rosary in Latin, singing hymns and listening to meditations. We were due to get into camp at about 8pm and, as predicted, the heavens opened. Before we’d even got to the campsite, most of us were soaked. We had to collect our bags (which, having been brought by lorry from Paris, were all set out for us according to our country of origin) in the rain and set up the tent in the rain too (there were communal tents already put up, but a very kind pilgrim had offered to share her private tent with me). However, by the time it came to eat our dinner, the rain had stopped and we were all laughing about the day we had just had. There is truly so much happiness to be found when you think things cannot get any worse! I laughed all the way through the pilgrimage, particularly when I was soaked to the skin and up to my knees in mud.

The next day was a very early start. I was awake by 4.30am, but the official wake up call came at 5am over a loudspeaker (in French), accompanied by classical music: “My dear pilgrims, it is 5am. It is time for you to exit your tents” (2 minutes later) “Pilgrims, I see that you are still in your tents. It’s time to wake up, pack things away, come and have your breakfast…move!”. And so this Frenchman continued every morning until every pilgrim had left the campsite. I believe most pilgrims had a sort of love-hate relationship with him, but we would never have left on time without his dulcet tones.

A few pilgrims...

A few pilgrims…

For me, the second day was much harder than the first, though it was slightly shorter in terms of distance. The good thing about this is that I had plenty to offer up! Every time I wanted to sit down or my feet were really hurting, I thought: ‘Lord, I’m offering this up to You for x,y,z’. If I had not suffered, I would not have been able to do that. Suffering is a blessing if we use it wisely, I think.

The third day was D-day. When Chartres cathedral was in sight, I forgot all the pains in my body. I forgot that the rain was lashing down, that I was walking uphill. I was focused on getting to that mass and when I did, it was worth every second of pain. It was a Pontifical high mass with no fewer than three bishops, one of whom gave us a Pontifical blessing. The cathedral was packed and there were more priests (with plenty of lace), friars and nuns there than you could shake a stick at! I very rarely cry, but after receiving Communion that day, I couldn’t help but shed a couple of tears. You have to experience the whole thing to appreciate how superb it was. Of course, Our Lord is present at every mass, but when a mass is done in such a way which tries to acknowledge, as reverently as possible, that He is there, both spiritually and physically, and how glorious He is, there is nothing better.

All in all, I would advise anybody, who is in reasonably good shape, to do the pilgrimage. In Our Lady of Walsingham’s chapter, there were many pilgrims who were over 60 and I am convinced that some of them were nearer to 70. Most of them did the whole pilgrimage and I never heard any of them complain, which put me to shame! For those who are near my age, you do not have to be at Ironman triathlon fitness level. The knowledge that everything you do is for God is all the motivation you need. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.