Monday, 31 August 2009

Late Summer Bank Holiday

As we keep this bank holiday, the heather on the Scottish hills (the purple headed mountains) is at its best.


All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.


The purple headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.


The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.


The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day.


He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.


Splendid words by Mrs C F Alexander (1818-95).

Sunday, 30 August 2009

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

In today's Gospel, we think about the importance of washing our hands before eating!

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labour of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 14

This parrot is very attractive.

I particularly like the bright red marking above the eyes. Sadly, it said nothing to me - but that was probably the safer option!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 13

Not a common site in the Scottish Highlands...

... but this emu seemed very much at home in the zoo.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 12

Birds of prey are quite a familiar site in the Highlands of Scotland.

These two birds keep an eagle eye on what is going on - they miss nothing!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 11

I much enjoyed seeing the penguins at the zoo...

... they are very well synchronised!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Fr Edward Houghton RIP

Father Edward Houghton, a priest at the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Grace and St. Edward on Chiswick High Road has been killed in a road accident.

The popular former teacher who had recently celebrated the first anniversary of his ordination was involved in a car crash on Friday, 21st August in North Yorkshire. He was on his way to his Aunt's funeral.

Born in Preston, before studying for the priesthood Father Ed had taught English and Religious Studies at St. Charles Sixth Form College in Ladbroke Grove. He had been a resident at Newman House when he was a student. He was 40 years old.

Vicar General of Westminster Diocese stated, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Fr Ed's immediate family - his sisters and brother, at this time. We remember also the parish communities at Chiswick where he was Assistant Priest, and the Cathedral where he served his year as a Deacon. "

Although relatively new to the Chiswick area, Father Ed was already a well-liked and valued member of the parish community. He will be deeply missed.

No details of funeral arrangments are available at this stage.

I was very sorry to hear this news, as I knew Ed quite well. He served his year as a transitional deacon at Westminster Cathedral, where I helped out as a permanent deacon twice a week. He would often say 'Oh good! You're here - I'll let you do everything!' The last time I saw Ed was on Friday 22 August 2008 when I took him for supper at the Spaghetti House near Westminster Cathedral to celebrate his ordination to the priesthood. Today's photo was taken in July 2007 on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament on the banks of the River Thames. We were both attending a reception given by the President of The Royal Institution.

I really liked Ed's down to earth approach to things - he had a good Northern sense of humour! He will be sadly missed.

Monday, 24 August 2009

St Bartholomew

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Bartholomew - Apostle and Martyr.

Saints of God! Lo, Jesus' people
Age to age your glory tell;
In his name for us ye labored,
Now in bliss eternal dwell.

Twelve poor men, by Christ anointed,
Braved the rich, the wise, the great,
All the world counts dear rejecting,
Rapt in their apostolate.

Thus the earth their death-wounds purchased,
Hallowed by the blood therefrom,
On her bosom bore the nations,
Laved, illumined--Christendom.

On this feast, almighty Father,
May we praise thee with the Son,
Evermore his love confessing,
Who from both with both is one.

I love this acrostic on Saint Bartholomew!

Happy Feast!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today's New Testament reading thinks about the relationship between husband and wife, and compares it with the relationship between Christ and his Church.

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

She is from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against both foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master’s hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden land.

O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee:
There, past the border mountains,
Where in sweet vales the Bride
With Thee by living fountains
Forever shall abide!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 10

These flamingos were an amazing sight in the mid-morning sunshine.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 9

These animals certainly like their stripes!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 8

This kangaroo was clearly having a rest...

... although I saw it hopping about later in the day.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 7

This fox seemed quite proud of it's home...

... though I did not ask to have a look inside!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 6

These sea lions..

.. were clearly having a whale of a time!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 5

Whilst most of the animals seemed unaware of my camera...

... these three were very keen to look their best on my blog!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today's New Testament reading tells us about the importance of 'singing the words and tunes of psalms and hymns when we are together.' Here we see some choristers from Westminster Cathedral who spend much of their time doing just this.

I do wish that Catholic congregations would take hymn singing more seriously. Whilst some set a high standard, most have much to learn from our Protestant friends. Too many Catholics keeps their heads buried in their books during the hymn singing - though perhaps not quite as dramatically as the boy in this photo!

Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
Bright seraphs, cherubim and thrones,
Raise the glad strain, Alleluia!
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
Virtues, archangels, angels’ choirs:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!
Thou bearer of th’eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
Ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Ye holy twelve, ye martyrs strong,
All saints triumphant, raise the song.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O friends, in gladness let us sing,
Supernal anthems echoing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

I love hymns with lots of alleluias!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Solemnity of the Assumption

Today we celebrate the entry of Mary (body and soul) into heaven.

Sing we of the blessed Mother
who received the angel's word,
And obedient to the summons
bore in love the infant Lord;
Sing we of the joys of Mary
at whose breast that child was fed
Who is Son of God eternal
and the everlasting Bread.

Sing we, too, of Mary's sorrows,
of the sword that pierced her through,
When beneath the cross of Jesus
she his weight of suff'ring knew,
Looked upon her Son and Saviour
reigning from the awful tree,
Saw the price of our redemption
paid to set the sinner free.

Sing again the joys of Mary
when she saw the risen Lord,
And in prayer with Christ's apostles,
waited on his promised word:
from on high the blazing glory
of the Spirit's presence came,
heav'nly breath of God's own being
tokened in the wind and flame.

Sing the greatest joy of Mary,
when on earth her work was done,
And the Lord of all creation
brought her to his heav'nly home:
Virgin Mother, Mary blessed,
raised on high and crowned with grace,
May your Son, the world's redeemer,
grant us all to see his face.

Happy Feast!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 4

As I said, many of the animals seemed quite unaware of us humans...

... they were certainly not going to carefully pose for my photos!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 3

Our friend here was not keen on having its face photographed!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Glorious Twelfth

Today sees the start of the grouse shooting season in the Hills of the North.

This dog seems to be rejoicing, though the grouse certainly will not be! The shooting season lasts for approximately four months and opinion is divided about whether it is morally right to take part in the shoot. I do not take part, but have eaten grouse.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 2

Here we see a leopard enjoying an afternoon siesta!

I am sure that, like myself, it had enjoyed an excellent lunch and was now enjoying the afternoon sunshine.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Edinburgh Zoo - 1

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Laurence - Deacon and Martyr.

On the last day of July, I paid a visit to Edinburgh Zoo. I am aware that not everybody is happy with the idea of keeping animals etc in zoos, but I have to say that this zoo had a very different feel to say London Zoo.

I was surprised by the size of the site and the extremely hilly nature of it! The animals seemed to have far more room to move around than I had expected, and there was no hint of putting on shows to entertain us humans! In many cases the animals seemed to be hardly aware of our presence. Some of the close up photos you are about to see come are the result of a 12x optical zoom lense on my camera - not my physical closeness. After all, I am still alive to tell the tale!

I would happily recommend a visit to anyone. And if you do go, may I suggest you take lunch in the Manor House? It is a most gracious setting with superb food and service, and is fantastic value for money.

Happy Feast!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

In today's Old Testament Reading we hear of how Elijah was provided with a scone baked on hot stones, and a jar of water to give him strength to reach the mountain of God. In the Eucharist we are given spiritual food to help us on our journey to heaven.

Guide me, O thou great redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
Hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer;
Be thou still my strength and shield;
Be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell's destruction
Land me safe on Canaan's side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee;
I will ever give to thee.

Happy Sunday!

Tomorrow we are off to Edinburgh Zoo!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Inverness Highland Games - 17

This visitor to the games looked a little less friendly than the owl!

As you can see, the Inverness Highland Games offer a very varied and enjoyable experience for the visitor. Our next Games will be staged on the weekend of July 24th and July 25th 2010 and will be followed by the Inverness Tattoo which will commence for six nights on July 26th at the Northern Meeting Park.

The Inverness Tattoo is held annually to raise funds for our local Army, Navy and Royal Air Force Cadet Forces and offers a great summer evening's entertainment.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Inverness Highland Games - 16

This wise owl was present at the Games...

...though it took part in none of the traditional activities!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Transfiguration of the Lord

It is high time today was made a Solemnity!

’Tis good, Lord, to be here,
Thy glory fills the night;
Thy face and garments, like the sun,
Shine with unborrowed light.

’Tis good, Lord, to be here,
Thy beauty to behold
Where Moses and Elijah stand,
Thy messengers of old.

Fulfiller of the past,
Promise of things to be,
We hail Thy body glorified
And our redemption see.

Before we taste of death,
We see Thy kingdom come;
We fain would hold the vision bright
And make this hill our home.

’Tis good, Lord, to be here.
Yet we may not remain;
But since Thou bidst us leave the mount,
Come with us to the plain.

Happy Feast!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Inverness Highland Games - 15

This athlete is well pleased with his hammer throw!

Just like other throwing events, the competition is decided on who can throw the hammer the furthest. The 'Hammer Throw' derived from old competitions where an actual sledge-hammer was thrown. Nowadays however the hammer is replaced with a steel or lead weight, one of the adopted methods derived from one of the most significant players in Hammer Throwing, Donald Dinnie.

Back in the 19th century, he was the first athlete to turn hammer throwing into a full 360 degrees before releasing. The turns allowed the athlete to achieve a much greater distance. This marked a significant split between traditional Scottish Highland games and modern track and field athletics.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Inverness Highland Games - 14

Here we see a successful throw!

Throwing the weight for height was originally practiced in farmyards where an object such as a barrel top would be suspended from a pulley at the hay loft or alternatively from the branch of a tree.At the Inverness Games the weight is 42 pounds (3 stone) wit an attached handle. It is thrown over a bar on stands, as used in the pole vault. Three consecutive failures at any weight eliminate the thrower from the contest.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Inverness Highland Games - 13

Throwing the weight for height is another important event at the Games.

For many first time visitors to the Inverness Games this is the biggest surprise of the afternoon. This is the event that everybody finds themselves drawn into and Inverness is famous on the international Highland Games circuit for the volume of roars of encouragement that the spectators produce!

To really appreciate what you are seeing you have got to try and lift one of these weights, so every now and then the crowd at the barrier is asked to pass the weight along the front. They find this very difficult!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today, in the Gospel, Jesus explain to us that he is 'the bread of life'. Our picture today is based on the first reading from the Book of Exodus.

Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendour,
first-begotten from the dead.
Thou alone, our strong defender,
liftest up thy people's head.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Jesus, true and living bread!

Here our humblest homage pay we,
here in loving reverence bow;
here for faith's discernment pray we,
lest we fail to know thee now.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou art here, we ask not how.

Though the lowliest form doth veil thee
as of old in Bethlehem,
here as there thine angels hail thee,
branch and flower of Jesse's stem.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
We in worship join with them.

Paschal Lamb, thine offering, finished
once for all when thou was slain,
in its fullness undiminished
shall for evermore remain.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Cleansing souls from every stain.

Life-imparting heavenly Manna,
stricken Rock with streaming side,
heaven and earth with loud hosanna
worship thee, the Lamb who died.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Risen, ascended, glorified!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Inverness Highland Games - 12

Contrary to general belief, athletes do not aim to throw the caber further than their opponents; they have three throws to try to toss or throw it 'straighter' than their opponents.

A 'twelve o'clock throw' is a perfect throw. Just imagine the caber as the hour hand of a clock with the thick end of the caber starting in the 12 o'clock position with the competitor tossing from the 6 o'clock position. If the thick end of the caber lands in the 6 o'clock position and stands proudly in a straight line with the thin end pointing towards heaven, that's a perfect throw!