12 April 2012

Learning a Musical Instrument

I decided at the beginning of the year that I wanted to learn a musical instrument. It wasn't necessarily a New Year's Resolution, just something I wanted to achieve this year. I used to play the trumpet when I was much younger, for about 18 months or so, and I thought I would like to take that up again. I also considered the Flute, such a beautiful instrument, the Clarinet, the Guitar, so versatile, and also the Violin.

Eventually, though, I decided to go for the Mandolin. What a great instrument, not the most popular, nor widely played, but versatile, with a great sound. There is such a vast library of music, going over whole centuries, of renaissance music, classical music, folk music, and so on.

I have the Mandolin pictured, it has such a sweet sound, great tone and volume. It is so unforgiving though, you really need to get it spot on otherwise the notes come out awful. Learning an instrument invariably involves learning to read music, too. With the Mandolin, as with other stringed instruments, there is an alternative, called Tablature. This has allowed me to be able to play a few basic tunes already, although I do intend to learn to read music properly, as it will give full access to all music, not just tunes that have been copied into tab.

Learning an instrument has opened a whole world of unknown music to me, and I have discovered some really beautiful tunes. I have discovered a liking for folk music, and feel like a little kid lost in a whole new world, as I stumble across new names, composers and styles.

It is still early days with my learning, I make many, many mistakes when trying to play. One thing I have learned to accept is there will always be mistakes, but as I improve I hope there will be fewer than at present! There is such joy in listening to music, and being able to create good music is very enjoyable. Below is a video of a tune that I hope to learn at some point. Take a listen, the tune is just two minutes:

03 October 2011

The Oath Against Modernism

The Oath Against Modernism

I, Jay Augustine, firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day.

And first of all, I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (cf. Rom. 1:90), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that, therefore, his existence can also be demonstrated:

Secondly, I accept and acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time.

Thirdly, I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time.

Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical' misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely.

Fifthly, I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our Creator and Lord.

Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili, especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas. I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion. I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality-that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful.

Likewise, I reject that method of judging and interpreting Sacred Scripture which, departing from the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, embraces the misrepresentations of the rationalists and with no prudence or restraint adopts textual criticism as the one and supreme norm. Furthermore, I reject the opinion of those who hold that a professor lecturing or writing on a historico-theological subject should first put aside any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition or about the divine promise of help to preserve all revealed truth forever; and that they should then interpret the writings of each of the Fathers solely by scientific principles, excluding all sacred authority, and with the same liberty of judgment that is common in the investigation of all ordinary historical documents.

Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact-one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history-the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labour, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles.

I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the Faith of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.

I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God. . .

07 September 2011

Universalis App for iPhone Updated

There are a great range of Catholic apps available for iOS devices, and one of the better apps is Universalis. The Universalis application allows you to carry around the Divine Office on your electronic device, so no matter where you are you can pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

Recently the app received an update that has delivered a couple of really useful additions.

Firstly, an option is now included that's gives the user a choice of praying the Saturday Office of Our Lady, where the option is available.

Secondly, the application now includes the Revised Translation of the Order of the Mass. As well as offering all the new responses, the update shows the new Eucharistic Prayers, as well as common prayers and collects for a range of feasts, along with the prefaces.

The updates add a great deal of value to the Universalis App, with Mass text and the Divine Office all in one application. All this and the app only costs £14.99. Given that the full Office costs up to £90 to buy in book form, this represents excellent value for money. If there is a downside to any of this, it is the sometimes funny looks you get from other people when using the phone in Church. I'm sure they think I'm reading/sending email!

Universalis can be downloaded from the Apple App Store.

23 April 2011

The Lord's descent into the underworld

From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

31 March 2011

US Company Uses Aborted Fetal Cells to Test Food Flavour Enhancers

I'm still shocked after reading a story that suggests a US Biotech company is testing food flavour enhancers on aborted fetal cells, the results of which are then used in food products from companies such as Kraft, PepsiCo and Nestle.

Being ignorant of such matters I had no idea this type of research even happened, and to be honest it makes me fell sick, truly sick.

The report I saw initially came via the Catholic Culture website, which was stating how following the news report, one of the companies using the product from Senomyx, Campbell Soups, will no longer continue to do so.

The report can be read on the Cogforlife site. Apparently they have been banging this issue for a while now, contacting the various food companies for a response to this matter. You can read the report here.

Whilst it is commendable that Campbell Soups have stopped using the Senomyx product, the response from PepsiCo demonstrates the level of ignorance and complete lack of respect towards the issue. They said:
“We hope you are reassured to learn that our collaboration with Senomyx is strictly limited to creating lower-calorie, great-tasting beverages for consumers. This will help us achieve our commitment to reduce added sugar per serving by 25% in key brands in key markets over the next decade and ultimately help people live healthier lives.”

I just hope that more and more people will get to hear about this, and take due consideration before buying products from these companies.

25 February 2011

What is The Purpose of Your Life?

This video has been around for a few months now, but I only came across it earlier today. Take a few minutes, and prepare to have your conscience pricked. Then ask yourself, what is the purpose of your life.