This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday 30 June 2013

NO 3: the Liturgy of the Word

Continued from Part 2.

This is the third instalment of our guide to some of the delightful things you may expect to see in the Ordinary Form Mass. It's time for the Liturgy of the Word, and today we're sending all the children out into the church hall so that they can receive their own instruction, while the grown-ups get a slightly more advanced version.

This Sunday we have the story of St Peter in prison, so the little darlings are going to draw a picture of him.

St Peter in prison

St Peter in prison, by Phil Evans (age 6).

For the grown-ups we have three readings, concluding with the Gospel, and then we come to the most exciting bit of all, the homily or sermon. Settle down, now, and let's see what spiritual delights are on offer.

preparing for the homily

I think I'll turn my hearing aid off now.

Now there are three options for the homily, and you may experience any of these.

1. The Bishop's Letter. Once a month +Fred sends out a letter to be read by all parishes. Bishops are often quite intelligent people, so this may be the best option - but if you're unlucky it will be about +Fred's holiday at the seaside: "I was walking along the beach at Hunstanton, and I thought of Jesus, who also used to go to the seaside, although it was at Galilee, and they didn't have seaside rock and donkey rides."

sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee - no candy floss available.

More likely, the bishop will impress you with his learning. "I was reminded of the words of Chesterton, who quoted Aquinas as pointing out that St Matthew had reported Our Lord as saying 'Lo! The people have no candy floss.'..."

2. The priest makes up a homily himself. This can be very good, or it can be very bad. At least if he's reading his own words the priest won't roll his eyes and talk in a silly voice.

3. Worst of all, you may just get: "One of our parishioners, Antonia Flannery, has recently been to India for three months, helping in a hospital there, and she's going to tell us of her experiences."

So Antonia tells you all about the hardships in Indian hospitals, where they don't have all the NHS facilities such as managers, equality and diversity coordinators, health and safety officers, etc. and have to make do with doctors and nurses.

holiday snaps

Oh good, Antonia's going to show us her holiday snaps.

Antonia went to Mass in India, but it was in Tamil so she didn't understand much. Do NOT at this point shout out "Why didn't you go to a Latin Mass?"

All too soon, the homily is over, we say the Creed (Nicene if there's time, Apostles' if the priest thinks we're running late). There's a bit in the book about bowing when we talk about the Incarnation; don't do that, as you'll probably be the only one, and people will look at you wondering whether you've just had a heart attack.

Well, that's about it for the Liturgy of the Word, so let's welcome back the children with their pictures of St Peter in prison.

Now, Daryl, how did St Peter get out of prison? 
No, Daryl, try again. Didn't God send someone to rescue him?
No, Daryl you imbecile. You weren't paying attention.
Saint Andrew

Mission Impossible - St Andrew infiltrates the prison.

Eventually, you do get some meaningful responses from the children, and the Mass continues. More next time.

Saturday 29 June 2013

Church rocked by "gay lobby" allegations

The church of England was reeling in shock today after the existence of a highly influential "gay lobby" at its heart was finally admitted.

Out goes the Union Flag

The Union Flag is replaced with the Rainbow.

The first signs of such a lobby came when the secular wing of the church of England, which trades under the name "British Government", started enacting legislation to overturn the ideas of marriage, fatherhood, motherhood, men, women, etc. David Cameron, the person who appoints the church's bishops, has been identified as one of the people responsible for attacking family life in this way.

Things came to a head today, when the British Embassy in Paris decided to raise the rainbow flag in solidarity with the "Gay Bride" march in London. "Mon dieu," said a French commentator, "it's true what they say about le vice anglais, then?"

David Cameron wedding

Not the sort of wedding we expect to see much longer.

The Queen herself, although Supreme Governor of the church of England, is not intending to take part in the "Gay Bride" march, and nor indeed is Archbishop Justin Welby, her deputy. However, Her Majesty has herself been seen visiting the "third arm" of the Church of England, the BBC, which is itself blamed for sex scandals dating back to the 1960s.

Supreme Governor

Blimey! It's the Supreme Governor!

The Catholic Church has its own problems, of course, and it was rumoured today that rebel forces in the Vatican had tried to raise the "Gay Bride" flag today, but had been repelled with holy-water cannons.

Meanwhile, this weekend also sees the return of the Glastonbury Festival. Curiously, a copy of the programme of the very first Glastonbury Festival has come to light, dating from 50 A.D.


The aftermath of Glastonbury.

Topping the bill is Joseph of Arimathea, who will be performing his popular hit Jerusalem.

Joe of Arimathea

Joseph of Arimathea sings: And did those feet in ancient time...

Another name that will be known to modern readers is that of a very young Cliff Richard, who has of course performed at all the Glastonbury Festivals since the first one.

Cliff Richard

A promising young singer.

Many celebrities attended, including the lovely Princess Boadicea (or however you want to spell her name), although her insistence on coming by chariot caused some problems to passers-by.


Merlin asks: "Has anyone lost this?"

Thursday 27 June 2013

Scandal in the Vatican

Tonight, thanks to Michael "Vortex" Voris, we can report on a scandal that is set to rock the Vatican to its foundations.

Pope reading a letter

Pope Francis receives a shocking letter.

It seems (says Voris) that Pope Francis has received a letter from a deacon in good standing, alleging that one of his cardinals blogs under the name of "Eccles", and as such has been making fun of atheists, liberal Catholics and Damian Thompson.

Damian Thompson and custard

Damian Thompson visits the California State Museum of Custard.

The news that the infamous Eccles could have infiltrated the Vatican naturally brought great distress to Pope Francis; it caused him to miss a Beethoven concert while he summoned an emergency meeting of his most trusted advisers (Father John Zuhlsdorf and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor) to resolve the situation.

Cardinal Eccles

Have you seen this man?

As the search for the intruder continues, Eccles is finding it harder to cover his tracks.

Traces of Eccles

Further evidence that Eccles has infiltrated the Vatican.

However, the mischief of "Cardinal" Eccles is not limited to the writing of blogs. Tablet staff were enraged to learn that copies of their newspaper had been found burning in one of the Vatican apartments.

Burning Tablet

Tabula est comburenda!

Said a Tablet spokesman: "We can live with rumours of gay orgies and satanic rituals - indeed, nobody enjoys that sort of thing more than I do - but burning the immortal words of Catherine Popehater is a bridge too far."

So the search for Eccles continues. I'm Michael Voris, thank you for reading.

Michael Voris lookalike

The Costa Blanca Michael Voris lookalike competition (3rd prize).

The Jimmy Carter edition of the Bible

This week we saw the publishing event of the year, as ex-President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (they don't give them out to just any old Tom, Dick or Barack, you know!) and one of the most successful U.S. presidents ever, introduced an edition of the Bible, with his own study notes, helping readers to follow his understanding of the Scriptures.

St Jimmy's Bible

And God spake unto James, saying "Rewrite ye the Bible in your own image."

St Jimmy's interpretation of the Bible is said to be at variance with most orthodox Christian doctrine. He quarrelled bitterly with Pope John-Paul II over "liberation theology" and labelled him a "fundamentalist" along with Ayatollah Khomeini.

Jimmy and Leonid

Well done, Jimmy. I can't stand Pope John-Paul II, either!

It is true that John-Paul II, having been brought up in Soviet-dominated Poland, would not have had as much experience of poverty, oppression, Marxism and suffering as a millionaire peanut-farmer in Georgia would. So St Jimmy was clearly in the right there.

liberating a peanut field

"As we were marching through Georgia." Jimmy liberates a peanut field.

St Jimmy's new edition of the Bible explains clearly how the Southern Baptists and the Catholics believe that women are inferior to men. "They're just like Muslims, you know," he says, drawing on his wide knowledge of religions worldwide.

Southern Baptist

John the Southern Baptist - a well-known fundamentalist.

So far the Gospel of St Jimmy is not selling as well as might be expected. This is probably because American Catholic and Baptist women, the ones who would naturally wish to read it in order to learn how to throw off their chains, are not usually allowed out into the streets unaccompanied - or to use the telephone or Internet - and so are unable to buy copies of the book.

subjugated woman

A subjugated Catholic woman, forbidden to read the Gospel of St Jimmy.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Henry VIII explains his breach with Rome

New historical evidence has emerged, explaining the reasons behind King Henry VIII's breach with Rome in the 1530s, which led ultimately to the Anglican church we know today.

Henry VIII

Henry VIII - wanted to liberalize the Church.

"We have our own vision for the Anglican church," says King Henry in a previously unpublished document. "A church where women may become vicars, and dance in the aisle at weddings. A church where people like Archbishop Cranmer will be welcomed into our rooms in the morning to tell us that we are bigots if we let not a man wed another man."

Cranmer and Toynbee

Archbishop Cranmer (in papal camauro) shares a joke with Toynbee, the court jester.

Meanwhile, in Rome, Pope Paul III is also anxious to shock traditionalists. He is said to be planning a Council of Trent, which will turn orthodox Catholicism on its head. "We need to decide whether God is calling us to introduce liturgical dancing, puppet masses and homilies about 'my holiday in Paris'. I get regular letters in green ink from a very keen young man called Monsignor Basil Brushtus; he is urging us to drop Latin, and he has some most original ideas on how the Mass should be celebrated. But I've suggested that we come back to that in a few years time."

Basil Loftus

Monsignor Basil Brushtus - too revolutionary even for Pope Paul III.

"That is encouraging, but it does not go far enough," responds King Henry. "As King I am also ex officio Director of Liturgy round here, and I want to ensure that my song Greensleeves is used regularly at Mass. It is easily adapted to religious use:

Green! Green! Green are the sleeves!
Green! Green! Green are the sleeves!
Green! Green! Green are the sleeves!
Green are the sleeves of the Lord!

A one, a two, a one two three four... Green! Green! Green are the sleeves!

It is clear that these documents will force us to revise our views on the Reformation, and they will keep David Starkey in business for many years to come. Unfortunately.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Dancing vicars

Getting married soon? Tired of the old-fashioned God-centred service? Want to party instead? We can put you in touch with dancing vicars and more!

Lady of the Dance

"I am the Lady of the Dance," said she.

Yes, "Revver" Kate Bottley will liven up your wedding with a spot of Everybody Dance Now! Suitable for everyone from the ages of 5 to 25!

Old ladies walking out

Let's go, Moly. This isn't the Extraordinary Form Mass we were promised.

But that's not all! On our books we have even more exciting possibilities. Planning a requiem Mass for someone you loved? Why not liven it up with a juggling vicar? Or a sword-swallowing deacon?

Silly vicar

Man that is born of woman hath but a short time to live, so let's party!

But you don't have to be Anglican to see a church service as an occasion for fooling around. Here's Cardinal Meisner, a distinguished German theologian, celebrating Mass with his little friend "Helmut".

Joachim Meisner

Surely you must be Joachim?

Catholic seminaries are seeing a new influx of trainee priests, now that (as recommended by Vatican II) the syllabus includes acrobatics, fire-eating and magic, in addition to the traditional courses on hermeneutics, ontology, sacramental theology, church history, etc.


Brother Dynamo demonstrates a little-known Old Testament miracle.

Of course the atheists are feeling left out in the silliness stakes, but Richard Dawkins, ever anxious for publicity, is here with his "floating head" trick; he is available for weddings, bar-mitzvahs, and Oxford degree ceremonies.

Dawkins being silly

I call this "The God Illusion".

A guide to the Novus Ordo 2

Continued from Part 1.

The story so far: although more used to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, our students are learning about the Ordinary Form. As today's lesson starts we are about to embark on the act of penitence. So far the church is not very full, because those who aren't sinners haven't yet bothered to show up.

church car park

At this stage, late-comers are probably outside, liturgically parking the car.

For those who got there on time, the chances are that you will say a prayer starting: I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned.

Note that in the earlier English translation of the Missal (undertaken by a distinguished team of scholars including Basil Loftus and a man who owned a Latin dictionary with only a few pages missing), the greatly wasn't present; that's because people didn't sin so much in those days. The new translation also adds through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault, and you are supposed to beat your breast, perhaps three times.

Mea maxima culpa

Mea maxima culpa! How to beat your breast.

Actually, it seems that most people don't bother to do the breast-beating thing. If you are holding a baby, then it's probably a dangerous thing to attempt, but your sins may well be forgiven, all the same.

If you're lucky you will also get a sung version of this: Lord have mercy. Kyrie Eleison. If you're less lucky it will be accompanied by a man on an electric organ, a spotty teenager with a guitar, and an old man playing some sort of recorder. This is to encourage you to cry out for mercy.

Lord have mercy!

Lord have mercy!

Well, that's over, the remaining stragglers have now turned up, usually squashing into the most crowded pews, and we are ready for the Gloria: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. In the earlier translation Lofty's pals got this wrong - possibly because some of them were not people of good will - and it came out as ...and peace to His people on earth.


"On earth" was also deemed to include astronauts.

The Gloria, as re-translated by Arthur Roche and co, is now very similar to its Latin equivalent; however, the congregation are nowadays encouraged to use some of the time in consulting their mobile phones, texting friends, etc. This is so that they don't do it during the Liturgy of the Word.

Before that, we may be invited to participate in a moment of silent prayer. Do it quickly, since after about 0.0001 seconds the priest will rush into the Collect. We'll discuss the Bible readings next time.

Bible reading

At the next stage the lector does not need to be a priest.

Monday 24 June 2013

Sede Vacante

Conspiracy theorists are still arguing over the significance of the "vacant seat", marking the absence of Pope Francis from a concert last week. We asked some of our local bloggers if they could explain this.

Sede vacante

Sede vacante.

Eccles: Apparently, the little girl sitting behind him had asked him to move, as his mitre was blocking her view. This happens to me in the cinema a lot: I'm sitting down to watch an exciting James Bond film and a bishop comes in and sits in front of me. Still, in some dioceses you're lucky if they even wear a dog-collar.

Fulton Sheen

Ven. Fulton Sheen - hearts sank whenever he came into a theatre.

Father X, expert on cannon law: I'm told that Pope Francis took the evening off in order to practise his shooting. It's not widely known but he always packs a pistol whenever he celebrates Mass, just in case a Tablet journalist should walk in. And a good thing too.


Good shooting, Holy Father!

Father TF, hermeneutical expert: No, in fact Pope Francis spent the evening attaching corks to his papal mitre, in readiness for a forthcoming trip to Australia. He was envious of the corking biretta that my parishioners have made for me.

Pope with corks

The Pope prepares to meet Cardinal Pell.

Catherine Pepinster, Tabletista: Pope Benedict XVI would have attended this concert, which featured music by the misogynist dead composer Beethoven - a shabby attempt to revive the sort of music which is totally against the Spirit of Vatican II. Pope Francis, when he discovered that there would be no music by living female composers - such as, er, Sandie Shaw, Lulu, Dusty Springfield and Cilla Black, who appeal to the younger generation - rightly boycotted the concert and spent the evening reading the last 50 issues of the Tablet, which we'd sent him.

Cilla Black

Cilla Black, as modern and relevant as the Tablet.

Damian Thompson, custard expert: Sorry, I'm too cut up about the death of James Gandolfini, surely the most important overweight actor since Orson Welles. I must go and write three more blog posts on the subject. Surely his beatification cannot be far away?

The Sopranos

A scene from The Sopranos.

Sunday 23 June 2013

The Scandal of Pope Francis

The Catholic Church was up in arms today, when yet more evidence emerged that Pope Francis isn't the same as Pope Benedict.

WYD setting

The set for World Youth Day, designed by Pope Francis. Note the Satanic horns.

Take for example World Youth Day 2013 in Rio. Originally, Pope Benedict had suggested an elegant Gothic setting for this important event. But the moment that Francis jumped onto the chair of St Peter, he decided to reverse this decision and chose a design out of Star Wars, which he planned and built in 3 months flat.

Old WYD setting

The site of WYD, as planned by Benedict XVI (now demolished).

Pope Francis continues to bring shame on the Catholic church. Last night he was supposed to be watching Rome's Got Talent, presented by Antonio and Decani; instead he chose to go off and do some work, meeting a group of nuncios (only one of whom was able to juggle fried eggs while standing on one leg and whistling Follow me, follow me!). Then he dared to go off and do some praying - as if he didn't do enough of that already!

Pope wasting time

Pope Francis praying - when he could be having FUN!

In other news, a miraculous vision has appeared in the bathroom wall of a blogger by the name of Eccles. It is not believed to have any religious significance, but an exorcist has been called just in case.


This can't be what the Tablet calls "Catholic wallpaper".

2 Samuel

Time for more spiritual nourishment in the form of the next instalment of the Eccles Bible project, where we explain the Bible to atheists.

Now here we come to one powerful argument for atheism: the 2nd book of Samuel is not by Samuel, and doesn't even mention him. In the eyes of Richard Dawkins this proves that the Bible is false. But then The Selfish Gene doesn't mention Gene Kelly, so maybe it's not such a clincher after all.

Prophet Gene

The Prophet Gene, singing in the rain.

In fact the 2nd book of Samuel starts with David singing, or at least reciting, a lament over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan: How are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath (or Geth).* Well, it's too late to tell it in Gath (or Geth) now, as the place has fallen into ruin.

It's not all bad news for David, as he is then anointed king. However, General Abner sets up Saul's remaining son Ish-bosheth as a rival king, although eventually they both get murdered.

* It's terrible how many clichés you find in the Bible. Shakespeare too, wrote little apart from clichés.


The comic strip Li'l Ish-bosheth never really took off.

At this stage, David is very much the good guy, and is really furious at the murders of Abner and Ish-whatsit. "David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people," as it says in Chapter 8, and God backs him. Indeed, God enters into an eternal covenant with him. I'm rather losing count of these Old Testament covenants, but each one was slightly more sophisticated that its predecessor. There'll be something much better on offer in the New Testament.

By the time we get to Chapter 9, David asks "Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?" There is, in fact; namely J's son Mephibosheth. But things are about to go horribly wrong, and it's all David's fault...


Bathsheba, she bare in a bath.

Yes, the lovely Bathsheba comes on the scene and David falls for her. Problem: she is married to Uriah the Hittite. David's conduct is rather poor here: he has an affair with her, and he arranges for Uriah to be killed in battle. From now on, David's life is going to consist of a succession of troubles, and it is hard to present it in a cheerful light.

Tamar, David's daughter, is raped by Amnon, his son. Then Absolom, another son, rebels against David. Although Absolom gets killed, he does at least try to die in a comic fashion: he's riding a mule under a tree, and is caught by the branches and left hanging in mid-air.


A brave attempt to inject some comedy into a depressing book.

It's no wonder that Samuel decided to stay dead during this book. Let's skip through to Chapter 22, without listing the wars and famine en route; here we have one of David's hit songs (he composed it earlier, it seems). This time he manages to be a bit more upbeat.

bishops singing

Are you all ready to join in the song, lads?

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
the God of my rock, in Him will I trust. 
He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, 
my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour...
This is good stuff, much better than "Follow me, follow me..." David later bundles a whole lot of these into a book of Psalms (this one turns up again as number 18).

Well, we're coming to the end of David's reign, although he hangs on a little longer in order to qualify for the book of 1 Kings. A deeply flawed character, but aren't we all, Richard? Yes, even you... look, admit that at least, and we may start getting somewhere...