Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Should we pray in public?

There's recently been a fascinating - no, not fascinating, what's the word? - ah yes, mindless debate on Twitter, over the question "Should we pray in public?"

Pope Francis praying

Ignore him, he just wants attention.

Those who are a little weak on understanding wheel out Matthew 23 at this point, and start mumbling about phylacteries and Pharisees (which are two distinct things, as it happens). There is a subtle point here, athough their fuddled minds rather miss it. It is obviously wrong to feel that you are somehow better than others because you call yourself "A miserable sinner" or "On the side of the angels"; however, joining in public prayers is not quite the same thing.

painting by Millet

We mustn't pray the Angelus - there's a painter watching!

The Angelus itself is basically a Catholic prayer (although used by some other denominations) and all to do with the angel greeting the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is generally regarded as an important event, and no decent person of any faith would mock it, or even mock a prayer that commemorates it. Of course, it is a fine Twitter tradition to mock Christianity, and if you do so, you need to use lots of swear words and insults, as otherwise people won't take you seriously.

Personally, I find this whole "praying in public" business very distasteful, don't you? When the intercessions begin in church, I generally ignore them, and just turn to the Tablet cryptic crossword puzzle instead. Hmm - Nice debt rearranged - how we hate him! (8). Any ideas, there? Anyway, I don't like people to know I'm praying, so I do it privately at home. Well, of course I don't usually bother. Life's too busy, know what I mean?

cat praying

A nasty traddy cat, praying.

To finish off, we have a guest post from Sister Wendy Beckett. This was posted as a comment on Damian Thompson's blog, and immediately deleted by the muddlerators.

custard for the PM

Custard for David Cameron.

In this charming 21st century painting by Adams of the Telegraph school, we see an updating of the Belshazzar's Feast story, in which a ruthless dictator lets his gluttonous instincts get the better of him, shortly before his inevitable downfall. The use of custard in this context, traditionally presented in a "rainbow" tin, is an astute reference to the dictator's obsession with same-sex marriage, which was one of the causes of his downfall.

There is a message in this painting for all of us, I think: namely, that custard, although one of the staple foods of life, can be misused and misapplied. St Paul warns us that someone who has turned to the dark side will feed on custard to his own destruction. Incidentally, the painting is one of a pair, as Adams later went on to depict the cupcakes of Clegg.

As we gaze on this beautiful painting, shall we meditate on the fate of Cameron, and say a prayer, possibly one involving custard? I think so.


  1. Darling eccles - a terrible fate overcame the Camclegg - it formed a beast with two heads and four faces - Bosco will tell you all about it, it is in his favrite book - happy new year to you and the 'gallant click' xx Jess :)

  2. Dear Sir,

    Thank you for your timely and evaluated comment regarding Daily Telegraph blog moderations. It has fallen upon me in much consequence of my exalted position as Chief Wallah in this Sri Lankan call centre to explain how are the whereabouts of our policy concerning commentatering.

    As much as our client, Prince Damian (aka the "blood-crazed mongoose") is Blog Supremo, he cannot moderate even people like you who he cannot stand. This is due to the excellent fair play of the British Empire in which censorship is not very cricket. So he saw your custard comment, immediately realised it was funnier than anything he writes, telephoned Sri Lanka and we deleted it.

    I am sir your obedient servile,
    Damian Harjip Singh

  3. i've begun praying in my traddy cat-suit. that way the priest doesn't interrupt my prayers after mass which are frowned upon and swept along as quickly as won't be resisted. it's involuntary but the claws come out at, do thou oh prince of the heavenly host cast into hell...' followed by a little snarl. it's catching on. I noticed a traddy-squirrel racing through his rosary last Sunday. when the priest tried to move him along he brought out tin miraculous medal junctions and began hurling them at him. the at midnight mass a indeterminate kangaroo requested 'waltzing matilda'. when the priest refused as we were already about to sing, 'we are the world', the roo bounced into the sanctuary and began terrifying the altar girls with Matter Dolorosa chaplets hidden in her pouch.

    last week the parish committee decided altar rails might be a good idea. and bouncers dressed up as acolytes, just in case. they are even employing a little Latin for security speak, and incense so there's lower visibility. the priest now prays with his back to the pew for anonymity's sake. altogether the liturgical changes have brought about a spiritual renewal in the parish.

    traddy-cat aka Fr TC FSSPX
     rosary-squirrel aka Fr Winternuts FSSPX
    chaplet kangaroo aka Sr Dolly ordinariate

  4. Filming or photographing the Pope in prayer is very disrespectful.