Saturday 31 January 2009

Catholic Heritage in Popular Culture

A staple of modern popular culture is the television game show. This video shows an early example of the genre, What's My Line. The original show What's My Line ran from 1950 to 1967. The premise was that the panel attempts to guess the avocation of the guests through a series of questions - or in the final round, attempts to guess the mystery celebrity guest while blind-folded, as in this clip.

The mystery guest in this clip is Bishop, as he then was, Fulton Sheen, a staple of popular American Catholic Culture for decades. Archbishop Sheen, whose cause for canonisation began in 2002, was best known for television shows that essentially took the form of illustrated sermons. He presented The Catholic Hour on radio from 1930 to 1950, and, on television, Life is Worth Living from 1951 to 1955 and later The Fulton Sheen Program from 1961 to 1968.

From a Catholic heritage point-of-view, the most interesting element of this clip from What's My Line is not the presence of Bishop Sheen, however illustrative, but the reaction of the panel as he leaves.

Those familiar with the show will also notice that, uniquely, both the ladies, Arlene Francis and Dorothy Kilgallen, stand to take leave of this guest, but the real 'gravy moment' is the gesture of panelist and journalist (and Catholic) Dorothy Kilgallen towards 'uncle Fultie.' Take a look and you'll see how Catholic culture inhabited the public sphere in the days when men were men and Popes were Pius.

Saturday 24 January 2009

Excommunications remitted


By a decree of the Congregation of Bishops dated 21st January, and effective from that date, the Holy See has remitted the excommunications of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, members of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius the Tenth, who were consecrated by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the late Bishop Antonio Castro de Mayer. An unofficial translation is also available.

Cardinal Re, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, wrote in Italian: 'It is hoped that this step is followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Fraternity of St. Pius X, thereby demonstrating true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and the authority of the Pope by the proof of visible unity.'

The statement of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce can be found here.

Pilgrimage to Dublin

The series of pilgrimages for the Holy Year of Saint Paul resumed this morning with Mass and devotions in the Saint Paul's @ Smithfield. While tomorrow is a feast of Saint Paul, today being the feast of his disciple, St. Timothy, wasn't an inappropriate day to celebrate either.

Fr. Flanagan preaches at Saint Paul's
Fr. Desmond Flanagan, O.Carm., celebrated Mass for a congregation of 49 members and friends of St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Group. In his sermon, Fr. Flanagan emphasised the missionary faith of Saint Paul, urging those present not to be ashamed to stand up for their faith in today's world.

The Sanctuary of Saint Paul's during the Mass
Of particular note is the fresco of the conversion of
Saint Paul on the Sanctuary wall

Following Mass, some of the pilgrims made their way to Queen St., the nearby birthplace of Blessed Columba Marmion, O.S.B., who was baptised in Saint Paul's Church.

St. Blath of Kildare

Among the several daughters of St. Brigid renowned for sanctity stands St. Blath (orse St. Flora) of Kildare. St. Blath is commemorated, if she is remembered at all, on 29th January. She was a lay-sister in the Convent of Kildare founded by St. Brigid.

As cook of the Convent, she earned a reputation not only for her heroic sanctity and her personal devotion to her foundress but also for her cooking. It is said that, under the care of St. Blath, the bread and bacon at St. Brigid's table were better than a banquet elsewhere.

She is recorded as having been born to heaven in the year 523, about two years before the death of the great St. Brigid.

At the risk of a pun or an anachronism, it might be said that St. Blath was the Little Flower of Kildare.

St. Blath of Kildare, pray for us!

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Feast days and name days - St. Agnes

St. Agnes died about the year 300 AD, at the tender age of thirteen. Like many other Christians during the first centuries in Rome, she was killed for her beliefs. She protects maidens and children, gardeners, engaged couples, chastity and rape victims. She is often, as in the pictures here to the left, depicted with a lamb, an agnus, signifying innocence and purity. The name Agnes, however, has nothing to do with agnus, but is derived from the greek word agnós, meaning chaste.

Today is the feast of Saint Agnes on the Church's Calendar. In the Swedish Calendar, it's also Agnes's Name Day. For each day, in the Swedish calendar, one or two names are being celebrated, these names usually correspond with the feast days of the Saints e.g. Stefan (Swedish version of Stephen) on Dec 26th, Michael on Sept 29th and Tomas (Thomas) on Dec 21st. On their day people named after these saints are usually congratulated and name days are celebrated like birthdays, though on a smaller scale. Some days, like New Years Day and June 24th, the day of John the Baptist, have no names attached to them, and some names, like Tor (October 19th) or Ragnar (October 1st) have name days, but have, of course, no connection to the Catholic Church whatsoever, being rather pagan in nature.

Agnes was a very popular name, in both Sweden and the English speaking world, at the start of the 20th century, and has now, in recent years, again become popular. Among the Agneses of the world we find, apart from the author of this blog-post, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as Blessed Mother Teresa.

The Name Day Calendar of the Royal Swedish Academy is another link, probably an unconscious one, with Sweden's Catholic past. It is an example of some of the ways that Sweden, although technically a Lutheran Country, has many expressions of Catholicism. In many cases, Swedish National life retains many more of the outward signs of Catholic Civilization than many nominally Catholic Countries.

Sunday 11 January 2009

Fourth Monthly Mass in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin

Gains and Losses

The fourth monthly Latin Mass run by the Fraternity of Saint Peter in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin took place this afternoon at 1 p.m.

The congregation gained slightly in numbers this month, reversing the trend of the first three months. However, this was the result of a slight increase in the number of people from outside the Diocese attending and meant the loss of last month's majority of local people in attendance.

The presence in the Sanctuary of the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Bishop Moriarty, was a very significant gain. Great praise and thanks is due to His Lordship for his generous provision of this monthly Latin Mass and his fatherly solicitude, demonstrated by his attendance twice in the space of four months. However, we have once again lost the use of a maniple by the celebrant.

Saturday 3 January 2009

St. Aedh of Kildare

The life of King Aedh Dubh (Hugh the Black) of Leinster is to be found both in the Annals of the Four Masters and the Annals of Ulster. His name, under the latinized form of Aidus, is to be found in several martyrologies.

His hair colour, rather than any misdeeds, is the source of his designation 'the black'. This distinguishes him from King Aedh Finn of Ossory, Hugh the Fair, on account of his hair colouring - although his deeds were high and holy too.

The great ecclesiastical historian Colgan recounts King Aedh's abdication about the year 591, whereupon he entered the monastery of Kildare for the remaining forty-eight years of his life.

He went on to become Abbot of Kildare and, from 630 to his death in 638 or 639, he was Bishop of Kildare. c.f. Colgan's Trias Thaumaturga, and the Secunda Vita S. Brigidae, cap. xxxv, ps. 523-4. This is a point of singular interest. Some writers ascribe to St. Conleth, and to the Bishops of Kildare after him, a joint role as Bishop-Abbot. However, St. Aedh is the first of the Bishops of Kildare who is recorded as having held both posts.

O'Donovan, in his Annals of the Four Masters vol. i, pps 256-7 gives the year of St. Aedh's death as 638. Colgan gives his feast day as 4th January and prefers the latter year for his birth to Heaven.

St. Aedh of Kildare, pray for us!