Friday, 13 December 2013

Update for Paul (and anybody else)

You ask after Mr Heron. I think he must be alive and well, but I haven't seen him for months. I certainly did not poison him, shoot him or otherwise do him any harm, but he has been conspicuously absent.
 However, as I hope you can see: his absence may have everything to do with the net which is stretched across the whole pond, plus the plastic netting fixed around the sides of the pond. He may have tried to land on this net without telling me, but I think he would get a bit of a bouncy shock, which would put him off from ever trying to do it again.
On the other hand, if you look closely at the second picture, of the fish tank, you will see that I have some concern for its future.
This tank, which holds about ten fish, is showing its age, or at least the supports are. I had the tank put in place long before the pond, and the wooden frame is rotting away. Even more of a problem is the 'table' supporting the filter tank (You may also see here the Heron Countermeasures which are in place). I have yet to decide what to do about it, but I hope I can decide before the whole thing collapses!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Long time since the last one!

What a miserable day! I have just returned from my midday walk with the dog Storm - dark stormy skies, cold wind, blowing drizzle. Wonderful - it's good to be able to get out!
And a bit of a mess-up with today's feast.  I am very pleased that I have been able to offer a Mass in honour of the Immaculate Conception in the Extraordinary Rite this morning, whereas my other Masses in the Novus Ordo were for the Second Sunday of Advent..  And of course I can celebrate the great feast again tomorrow in the Novus Ordo.  But I wonder why, when we can transfer Holydays of Obligation to the nearest Sunday, without worrying about the Sunday Mass, why we could not ignore this Sunday to celebrate the wonderful feast of the Immaculate Conception on its proper day. Just a thought.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Blessed Sacrament Miracle?

The following article is taken from

Msgr. Ramiro Valdes Sanchez, vicar general of Guadalajara, Mexico, has announced that the archdiocese is investigating a possible Eucharistic miracle that reportedly took place last week. 
Msgr. Valdes Sanchez said he has received instructions from the archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Jose Francisco Robles Ortega, to direct the investigation.
The pastor of Mary Mother of the Church, Father Jose Dolores Castellanos Gudino, said that on July 24, while he was kneeling in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, he saw a flash of light and heard a voice.
“Ring the bells so that everyone comes,” the voice allegedly instructed. “I will pour blessings upon those present and the entire day. Take your small tabernacle for private adoration to the parish altar and put the large monstrance next to the small tabernacle. Don’t open the tabernacle until three in the afternoon, not before.” 
“I will perform a miracle in the Eucharist,” the voice continued, “the miracle that will take place will be called, ‘Miracle of the Eucharist in the incarnation of love together with our Mother and Lady.’ Copy the image that I will give you now and show it to others.” 
The voice then reportedly told him to share this with all of his priests to aid in their conversion and that he would fill all souls with blessings.
Fr. Gudino said that after hearing the voice he could only say, “My Lord, I am your servant, let your will be done.”
With local people gathered at 3 p.m., he recounted that he “approached the tabernacle and upon opening it the host consecrated by Our Lord Jesus Christ was covered in blood.”
According to the priest, the voice also told him to establish an adoration chapel and to allow any scientific study necessary to confirm the miracle.
Msgr. Sanchez said samples from the host will be studied in Guadalajara. 
“First of all the testimony needs to be gathered from three people who were present, obviously in this case from the pastor,” he explained.
He also said that a team of experts will be assembled to investigate whether there is a scientific explanation for the phenomenon.
“While this is occurring, the Church in Guadalajara, through the Cardinal Archbishop, has said that the Host should not be exposed to the public and that it be kept in a safe place, in a tabernacle,” he added.

“The Catholic Church’s legal doctrine states that when an extraordinary, uncommon event occurs, the necessary precautions should be taken to determine if the event can be explained by natural causes or if a more serious investigation is necessary to determine if it goes beyond the natural and whether or not it should be considered a miraculous event,” he explained.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Rosary Relay For Priests

Rosary Relay for Priests is an attempt to encircle the globe from midnight to midnight of Friday, June 7th, with the saying of the Rosary from one shrine of Our Lady to the next.  However, all this week, I have become convinced that the day for the Rosary was today, until I realised just before Mass that I had got it wrong (again!).  Even so, I explained to my congregation that we would say the Rosary after Mass "because it may be that that some priest somewhere needs our prayers and couldn't wait untill next Friday".
And so we did.
And, anyway, by the end of the day, that priest could be me!
I think this Rosary Relay For Priests is a splendid idea; I hope everyone will join in, either with a congregation or on your own.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The War on Terror

No more sightings of Mr Heron ( a real terrorist if you happen to be a fish!).  Of course, I am sure he is still around.
But I thought I might review the saga of my relations with Mr Heron from the beginning, and how I hope finally to outwit him.

Having dug a fish-pond with my own fair hands (and a dinky mechanical digger I hired) at my last parish, I came to Barney with the same idea of keeping fish.  This is my pond at St Patrick's Ryhope.
After a few months I bought a four thousand gallon tank and about a dozen fish. This pic gives you an idea of what the tank might have looked like before the weight of snow in 2010 collapsed the structure built to keep out Mr Heron. Because it was here that I first came into contact with The Terrorist - he had been standing on the edge doing a spot of fishing.
After a year or so, the PP of Ryhope St Pat's offered me all the fish that remained at Ryhope. I made arrangements with a professional to bring them to Barney, and I put them into the tank. This meant that the fish in the tank were tightly packed, shoulder to shoulder. I asked the same professional to make        me a pond at the front of the house. And so it was done.
As you can see, it was built level with the tarmac at the front of the house. The children used to love standing on the stones at the side of the pond, bending and pointing at the fish. No-one fell in, but it was touch and go at times.
Mr Heron also used to like to stand on the edge of the pond to perform his nefarious deeds. Which is what I discovered one early morning when I found a half-eaten fish lying on the tarmac; the surveillance tape showed me the heron standing on the side and fishing to his heart's content. This was when I first started to put string and rope around the front of the pond.
I didn't need to worry about the far side where the pampas grass was well established, looking, as Number Two said, like camouflaged assassins, or ghillies, or some such. At the front of the pond, I next installed metre long spikes into the rocks and fixed netting to the spikes.

But, as you can see, having cut back the leafy, hairy, pampas grass, the pond is wide open for the heron to attack from the lawn-side of the pond.  I filled the gaps with odd bits of fencing and string.

But then came the latest outrage from Mr Heron. He jumped into the pond and swam or strode about looking for his breakfast.

The only solution then is to cover the whole pond with a net, because I know that he can get into the pond, and he knows that he can get into the pond, but whether he knows that I know that he knows ..... (Iwish I had never started that). We have now fixed more spikes and garden netting around the open side and we have covered about half the pond with a net.

As soon as I can, I will cover the whole pond with a net, and with a lot of luck I will be able to frustrate the heron in his ambition to empty my pond of my fish. Who knows at this stage whether I will succeed?

Now for the next really diifficult challenge - to defeat the other horrible enemy - the grean, slimy algae and blanket weed. No matter how much you scoop out or how many chemicals ("doesn't hurt the fish") you throw into the pond, nothing seems to work. 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Defensive Measures

When Denis (who has just taken over looking after the garden, and doing a fine job [photos when this cold weather stops and growth begins]) suggested that the best way to keep the heron out is to put a net over the pond. Good idea, thinks I, but it's a big area to cover.
Then I remember two things: that I do not need to cover the whole pond but just enough to keep the big bird away; and then I remember the net I used to cover the strawberry patch with, which was folded up round the back. (The strawberries have gone to pot - the squirrells and the blackbirds get them before I do!) Having retrieved the net and unfolded it on the ground, I realised just how big it is.
Yesterday afternoon, John and I stretched the net over the pond, as you can see.

Its position is temporary. John and I are planning to extend the mesh fence all around  the pond, and I think that we will then be able to cover most of the pond.
I would love to see Mr Heron try to land on the net - he would become a champion trampoliner!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

That Gay Marriage Thing

In case anyone has not seen this communication from Coalition for Marriage, I repeat it here, since it is worth consideration.


Dear marriage supporter,
Last night, the same-sex marriage Bill was formally passed by the House of Commons at Third Reading, pushed through by the three main party leaders even though they had no mandate to do so.
However, a number of MPs came over to our side of the argument and voted against the Bill for the first time. It wasn't enough to stop the Bill at this stage, but we are gaining momentum.
The Bill now moves to the House of Lords where the Government faces a much tougher battle than in the Commons.
On 3 June the Lords will have an opportunity to vote down the whole Bill, but even if that doesn't succeed, there will be other opportunities to derail it later in the Lords.
The Bill now carries a commitment to review civil partnerships, potentially allowing heterosexual couples to choose a civil partnership rather than a marriage - a move which would cost the country at least £4bn.
So the Bill not only seeks to redefine marriage, it's now trying to wreck marriage by introducing an astronomically expensive two-tier system with the option of 'marriage-lite'.
We always said this Bill would unravel and cause marriage to be undermined. It's now beyond doubt. This Bill wrecks marriage.
The House of Lords, already alarmed by the undemocratic and shoddy way this Bill has been hustled through Parliament, will be even more angered at the way marriage is being tossed aside.
For all these reasons, there is a long way to go and there's still everything to play for. We will be fighting for marriage every step of the way.
Yours sincerely,
Colin Hart
Colin Hart
Campaign Director
Coalition for Marriage


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Gay Marriage?

So the de-christianisation of the British Isles continues apace!  Led by a man who says he believes in marriage and family life.
How could Maria Miller, the minister, keep a straight face in Parliament yesterday when she said that marriage is the bedrock of society? Surely it is only the 'bedrock of society' because it can increase and sustain society for future generations? All other gettings-together may be wonderful, but they do not 'increase and multiply'.
It is claimed that the first 'gay marriage' will take place next year.  I wonder how soon the first teacher will be sacked because he or she refuses to teach gay marriage. How soon will the first priest be denounced because he adheres to the Church's teaching about marriage as a union of man and woman for the birth and upbringing of children? Of course, these things are already happening, and no doubt there are those who would like to raise the temperature because they fundamentally hate and wish to destroy Christianity.
God help us all.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Mr Heron .... again!

I know that I haven't blogged for some time, but Mr Heron has again got me all shook up, and I feel the need to tell someone!
Yesterday morning, when I returned at 5.45 am from my early morning walk, as I walked up the drive with my faithful companion, Storm, with a great flapping of wings, the heron took off from the pond and flew away over the nearby roof-tops.  He is a big bird, Mr Heron! I am more used to sparrows, pigeons and even jackdaws, but a heron beats them all.
I determined to try and find out how he behaved when visiting my pond, so I began to watch the surveillance recording for the half an hour of my walk.  The heron arrived shortly after I left the house at 5.15 and he landed on a bare patch where there used to be a large bush which I had agreed should be taken out. Silly me. But I thought that spot was still too high above the water of the pond. Then he made his way into the run-off from the filter tank, and then - Horror of Horrors! - he jumped into the water and began to swim like an ungainly swan! Did you know that herons can swim? I do now! As far as I could see, he caught three fish for his breakfast, and only flew off when I made my appearance.
Yesterday afternoon I feverishly extended my fence system of protection, and trailed some redundant cables across the length of the pond to deter swimming. I hope that I have done enough!
I haven't seen him so far this morning, but if I do I shall have some harsh words for him.