Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Today is St David's day and there will be celebrations all over Wales. His defence of Catholic teaching earned him his canonisation by Pope Callixtus II.He lived for a while in Caerleon and also in Llanthony where he had a little hermit's cell. This is the article from the Old Catholic Encyclopedia.

Bishop and Confessor, with St Winifred ,patron of Wales. He is usually represented standing on a little hill, with a dove on his shoulder. From time immemorial the Welsh have worn a leek on St. David's day, in memory of a battle against the Saxons, at which it is said they wore leeks in their hats, by St. David's advice, to distinguish them from their enemies. He is commemorated on 1 March. The earliest mention of St. David is found in a tenth-century manuscript Of the "Annales Cambriae", which assigns his death to A.D. 601. Many other writers, from Geoffrey of Monmouth down to Father Richard Stanton, hold that he died about 544, but their opinion is based solely on data given in various late "lives" of St. David, and there seems no good reason for setting aside the definite statement of the "Annales Cambriae", which is now generally accepted. Little else that can claim to be historical is known about St. David. The tradition that he was born at Henvynyw (Vetus-Menevia) in Cardiganshire is not improbable. He was prominent at the Synod of Brevi (Llandewi Brefi in Cardiganshire), which has been identified with the important Roman military station, Loventium. Shortly afterwards, in 569, he presided over another synod held at a place called Lucus Victoriae.(Llan-dewi brefi) He was Bishop (probably not Archbishop) of Menevia, the Roman port Menapia in Pembrokeshire, later known as St. David's, then the chief point of departure for Ireland St. David was canonized by Pope Callistus II in the year 1120.

This is all that is known to history about the patron of Wales. His legend, however, is much more elaborate, and entirely unreliable. The first biography that has come down to us was written near the end of the eleventh century, about 500 years after the saint's death, by Rhygyfarch (Ricemarchus), a son of the then bishop of St. David's, and is chiefly a tissue of inventions intended to support the claim of the Welsh episcopate to be independent of Canterbury. Giraldus Cambriensis, William of Malmesbury, Geoffrey of Monmouth, John de Tinmouth, and John Capgrave all simply copy and enlarge upon the work of Rhygyfarch, whilst the anonymous author of the late Welsh life printed in Rees, "Cambro-British Saints" (Cott. manuscript Titus, D. XXII) adds nothing of value. According to these writers St. David was the son of Sant or Sandde ab Ceredig ab Cunnedda, Prince of Keretica (Cardiganshire) and said by some to be King Arthur's nephew, though Geoffrey of Monmouth calls St. David King Arthur's uncle. The saint's mother was Nonna, or Nonnita (sometimes called Melaria), a daughter of Gynyr of Caergawch. She was a nun who had been violated by Sant. St. David's birth had been foretold thirty years before by an angel to St. Patrick. It took place at "Old Menevia" somewhere about A.D. 454. Prodigies preceded and accompanied the event, and at his baptism at Porth Clais by St. Elvis of Munster, "whom Divine Providence brought over from Ireland at that conjuncture", a blind man was cured by the baptismal water. St. David's early education was received from St. Illtyd at Caerworgorn (Llantwit major) in Glamorganshire. Afterwards he spent ten years studying the Holy Scripture at Whitland in Carmarthenshire, under St. Paulinus, (Pawl Hen), whom he cured of blindness by the sign of the cross At the end of this period St. Paulinus, warned by an angel, sent out the young saint to evangelize the British. St. David journeyed throughout the West, founding or restoring twelve monasteries (among which occur the great names of Glastonbury, Bath, and Leominster), and finally settled in the Vale of Ross, where he and his monks
lived a life of extreme austerity. Here occurred the temptations of his monks by the obscene antics of the maid-servants of the wife of Boia, a local chieftan. Here also his monks tried to poison him, but St. David, warned by St. Scuthyn, who crossed from Ireland in one night on the back of a sea-monster, blessed the poisoned bread and ate it without harm. From thence, with St. Teilo and St. Padarn, he set out for Jerusalem, where he was made bishop by the patriarch. Here too St. Dubric and St. Daniel found him, when they came to call him to the Synod of Brevi "against the Pelagians". St. David was with difficulty persuaded to accompany them; on his way he raised a widow'son to life, and at the synod preached so loudly, from the hill that miraculously rose under him, that all could hear him, and so eloquently that all the heretics were confounded. St. Dubric resigned the "Archbishopric of Caerleon", and St. David was appointed in his stead. One of his first acts was to hold, in the year 569, yet another synod called "Victory", against the Pelagians, of which the decrees were confirmed by the pope. With the permission of King Arthur he removed his see from Caerleon to Menevia, whence he governed the British Church for many years with great holiness and wisdom. He died at the great age of 147, on the day predicted by himself a week earlier. His body is said to have been translated to Glastonbury in the year 966.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Miserere Mei (Psalm 51) from Westminster Cathedral

The Ashing of the Sinners- Ash Wednesday, the Beginning of Lent


Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy. And according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my iniquity.
2 Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me.

4 To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee: that thou mayst be justified in thy words and mayst overcome when thou art judged.

5 For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me.

6 For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.

7 Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.

8 To my hearing thou shalt give joy and gladness: and the bones that have been humbled shall rejoice.

9 Turn away thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create a clean heart in me, O God: and renew a right spirit within my bowels.

11 Cast me not away from thy face; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and strengthen me with a perfect spirit.

13 I will teach the unjust thy ways: and the wicked shall be converted to thee.

14 Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall extol thy justice.

15 O Lord, thou wilt open my lips: and my mouth shall declare thy praise.

16 For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted.

17 A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

18 Deal favourably, O Lord, in thy good will with Sion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.

19 Then shalt thou accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings: then shall they lay calves upon thy altar.

Last painting by Ashraf Gery. Thank you Ashraf-beautiful



Secondary School Childrens race.& nbsp;       This was a fine bunch of people, who raced from the Town Hall behind  down the road to the church. There was great fun and great enthusiasm, especially when the dog ate the pancakes that fell on the floor. The little boy cried but was given another pancake.
Women's Race

 Men;s Race-winning Contestant


Junior race Winner and runner up.....I think he was quite disappointed!

It was a pleasure to see such kind and welcoming people and the children, without attitude and with plenty of fun taking part in a local festivity. They were polite and yet really enjoyed themselves, shrieking with laughter.
Male finalist

Finalists in the Childrens Race

The Road at dusk D

Today is Shrove Tuesday and up and down most of Christendom, is the final day to eat up all the rich foods before the Lenten fast and to go to Confession and be 'Shriven' of your sins before Ash Wednesday (tomorrow) The confession aspect of tthe day is not available to all, being confined to when the priest is available for most in the many penetential Rites available in all parishes. I have put a list of reconciliation times at the bottom of this blog. If you would like me to include your parish or any penetential service, or it there is any inaccuracy, please let me know.

 People used to have a half day off work in Britain . Usually the church bell rang at 11am. Pancake races are still run in many places.Indeed the popularity of the pancake races and making of pancakes in neighbourhoods, care homes and all over has not died out.

Clarkes, the Newport based food manufacturing plant have reported record sales for the Canadian Maple Spirit this week.They are said to be working round the clock to fill the orders for the four leading supermarket chains. Schools also take the lead in keeping the custom going!

 Abergavenny Tithe Barn have published a recipe for this years' pancakes and  there are more races at South Cerney, Gloucestershire from All Hallows Church at 3.30pm, and at St Margaret's Chapel (next to Our Lady of Glastonbury Catholic Church) at 3.30. I shall be travelling to Grosmont this afternoon to see the races there.

The tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney in Buckinghamshire was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. Pancake races in Olney can be dated back to 1445- in Catholic times.

The first pancake recipe was in a cookbook dating back to the 1439. Over the years this custom has been kept and modern runners now dress as traditional housewives with aprons ands bonnets whilst holding their frying pan. Pancake Day race rules state that they must at least toss the pancake at the start of the race and at the end of the pancake day races.
Shrove Tuesday is a term associated in English-speaking countries, Other Countries have, of course, Carnival and Mardi Gras.It is noted in Britain in histories going back to 1000AD, but may have been much earlier in the aural tradition.Making and eating the pancakes was considered the last feast which would be restricted during Lent.The date of Shrove Tuesday depends on the date of Easter and based on cycles of the moon.
There are Penetential Masses in all parishes this Lent, which will be published on the Churches Websites.Unfortunately some of these are not up to date, and cannot be accessed.
CWMBRAN NP44 3LTOur Lady of the Angels confessions (reconciliation)  Sats at 12noon -12.30
NP7 5UD Our Lady and St Michaels   Abergavenny, not sure
NP20 ITP St Mary's Stow Hill Sats 10.05-11.45
NP10 9DW St Basil and St Gwladys, Tregwylym Rogerstone Tuesday 6.30-6.50
NP20 3AQ  St David's Park Crescent Monday 6.30-6.50
NP20 7DX  St David Lewis, Bettws Newport  6.30-6.50
NP4 6HL  St Alban's Pontypool       5.30-5.40
NP4 9RA St Felix, Saturday after morning Mass
NP20 2BZ St Michaels Newport. Wed 6.30-6.50.
NP25 3BD   Saturday  St Mary's Monmouth 11-11.30  and on Request
And finally....a recipe!
  • 110g plain  flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml milk mixed with 75ml water
  • 50g butter
  • pinch of salt

Gently melt the butter (30 secs in microwave) or in a pan. Sift together the flour and salt. Crack the two eggs into a dish and mix thoroughly and then pour into a well in the middle of the flour (make this with a spoon)Whisk in the eggs gently so that there is a creamy runny mixture.Put 2 tablespoons full of butter into the pan and then keep the rest of the melted butter for the frying pan.Get the pan really HOT and then TURN DOWN THE HEAT . Put two tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan, after the butter has completely lubricated it and move the pan around to make sure the whole of the base of the pan is covered.With a palate knife , gently keep the pancake moving until it is firm enough to flip over or toss over (if you are brave!) Serve with anything you like!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Passing of a truly wonderful priest and confessor at Belmont Abbey

Father Dyfrig Harris
Monmouthshire Monk Priest, from Cwmbran, Torfaen. Requiescat in Pace

Right:St Dyfrig of Ergyng, Bishop of Llandaff


The Benedictine Community have lost one of their Brethren, to a stroke quite suddenly on 23rd of January. I drove down to the Abbey at Belmont today in glorious sunshine, and thought how fitting it was, that although extremely cold, the heavens were smiling on us, and on father Dyfrig. To my surprise I found he was christened Kevin Harris and attended Our Lady's church in Cwmbran, where he was Christened and  confirmed and then at Pontypool. certainly I would never have guessed he was from Cwmbran. Jovial, laughing and and extremely kind Confessor, with real concern for the faithful he served, he will be sorely missed by us all-his stints at Abergavenny during the penetential masses in particular, because these were where I cam into contact with him.

There was no room in the car park, and I walked back up through the graveyard to the Abbey Church and soon the procession of clergy entered, Abbot Paul being last . There were also representatives from the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which Father Dyfrig loved, having been to the Ukraine, and able to chant the liturgy. A sizeable number of the Ukrainian Catholics were also in the congregation. The Abbey church was packed with people standing at the back and sides and all the chapels full. During Father Abbot's moving homily, you felt a real sense of loss, echoed in the emotional letter written by his brother Michael later after the mass. Dyfrig was a Welsh priest from Madley just down the road from Belmont, who became Bishop of Llandaff. (no myth here-it is fact) The hymns chosen, 'Jesu Lover of my soul' , 'Soul of my Saviour' and 'Guide me ,O thou great Redeemer' were all well known and fervently sung, and the plainchant music written out for us in a beautiful booklet meant that most participated in the Ordinary of the Mass, which was largely sung. Father Dyfrig's brother and sister in law Jean and their families sat at the front, obviously distraught and our sympathy and love went out to them.

The gospel lesson from St John 14:1-6 was

'Do not let your heart be troubled
Trust in God still and trust in me
There are many rooms in my Father's house
If there were not, I should have told you
I am now going to prepare a place for you
And after I have gone and prepared you a place,
I shall return to take you with me
so that is where I am
you may be too
You know the way to the place where I am going.

Thomas said 'Lord, we do not know where you are going
so how can we know the way?'
Jesus said
I am the Way and the Truth and the Life
No one can come to the Father, except through me.'

The commendation was sung 'Receive me Lord and I shall live, and do not disappoint me in the promise you have given me'.

There followed the Byzantine Rite Commendation and the Christos Aneste, sung in Greek.

Finally, as the coffin was carried out from the church, the In Paradisum
In Paradisum deducant angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem.
Chorus Angelorym te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere, aeternam habeas Requiem.

As the Abbey church doors were open, the departing procession was bathed in bright sunlight, including Father Dyfrig's coffin- a great sign and a great blessing as a great priest, humble and human was carried out. I breathed the words:

'Well done, thou good and faithful servant'.
St Dyfrig         Pray for him
St Benedict     Pray for him
St David         Pray for him
St Winifride, Pray for him.
                                          Above Christ Receives Fr Dyfrig
 Left: St Michael