Monday, 21 July 2008

Closing down

Well I'm back from Lourdes and with that I've come to a few decisions.

Mad Trad has sort of become a popular blog. I have readers from all across the globe and what's more is that people e-mail me to say how much they enjoy the blog and how it has helped them; so it with some regret that I am going to stop blogging.

My reasons are personal and it would be inappropriate to share these on such a public sphere, but for what it's worth it's been a pleasure and a privilage to get to know some of you and to be able to contribute something to your day, week, month or year that has helped in some way.

I'm going to leave the combox open for now and in a week or so I'll close it down for good.

I ask for your prayers...

God bless


Friday, 18 July 2008

Tears in Heaven

I'll never forget the first time I heard this song... My father had just returned home from 2 weeks in the North Sea; being a fisherman, he often spent a long time away from home and so when he came home on a Thursday evening I would often get a 'late night'. On this particular evening, we noticed that there was a show on featuring Eric Clapton so we tuned in. Eric told the story about being addicted to drugs and loosing his son and why he wrote the song tears in heaven. Listening to those rough notes and the harsh voice of clapton, with just my dad and I in the room, spending time with one antother is one of my best memories.

One thing which continues to suprise me about a lot of songs, is the mention of the words 'God' and 'Heaven'. This song in particular shows a deep desire to know that his son is safe in the arms of God... Yet I'd be suprised if any massive music star was to come out and say I'm a Catholic.

Pope John Paul II said that in the dialouge with aitheism, we must not start with the proofs of God, bit with a profound reflection of mans solitude. That sounds very vauge, but it actually is the best basis to begin. When the son of a non-believer dies, I'm sure some sort of prayer or cry to God would come forth from their heart... It's on that level, that qwe should approach our culture and addressing the thirst people have for God.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

The Gift of Tears

I was just musing over the 1962 Missal (as I do from time to time) and I found some spectacular prayers; prayers that I'd never heard of and certainly didn't expect. The 1962 Missal is particulary beautiful for prayer... Whenever I struggle I normally have a look through and I find the prayers that I need at that present time. The beauty of these older prayers is that they are so precise; Raymond Arroyo said in his blog that priests e-mailed him all the time saying they are not sure what some of the prayers that were hashed up by the ICEL results even in priests not really knowing what the prayers are saying and thus they do not know what they are asking God for... (worrying)

This particular prayer I found was for the gift of tears.

Omnipotens, et mitissime Deus, qui sittienti populo fontem viventis aquae de petra produxisti; educ de cordis nostri duritia lacrimas compunctionis; ut peccata nostra plangere valeamus, remissionem que erorum, te miserante, mereamur accipere Per Dominum Nostrum Jesum Christum.

Almighty and most merciful God, who, to quench the thirst of thy people, did draw a foundtain of living water out of a rock, draw from out stony hearts tears of compunction, that we may be able to mourn for our sins and win forgiveness for them by your mercy. Through Jesus Christ...

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

A Vocation Story

A few weeks ago, I recieved a friend request from which is a special site set up for Catholics all over the world to try and connect with one-another. Low and behold, it was a cloistered nun... And not just any cloistered nun... One of Mother Angelica's own Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, Sr Marie St. Paul. Here is her vocation Story.

The first glimpse of my vocation as a religious came to me when I was 8. The details are hazy now, but I remember having a dream where Our Lord came to me as a young Boy. When I awoke the next morning I knew without a doubt that He loved me and that, in some mysterious way, I belonged to Him. The realization of His love was tangible to me for quite a few days. Many years would pass before I grasped the full import of that dream.

Thanks to my Mom and Dad’s great faith, I was baptized and raised a Catholic. After my Confirmation the Holy Spirit took me in hand and so began the journey of discerning my vocation. I started to read more about the saints and the Church. The Faith really came alive. At the same time I was determined to pursue my dreams of joining the military. After graduating from Northern Arizona University and being commissioned a second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force, I went to my first assignment on active duty. To put it succinctly, I was miserable. To be honest, even though I was trying to live a more faith-filled life, I was still pretty worldly. It was a big struggle for me. Our Lord is very patient, thank goodness!

One weekend in May, I attended a Marian-Eucharistic Congress. One of the last scheduled activities was a procession with an exact replica depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe. As she was passing by, I said to Our Lady, rather casually, “Change my heart.” Since most of the people were attending the procession, I headed down to the Adoration Chapel. As I looked at Our Lord and He looked at me, it became clear to me He was calling me to be His Spouse. I decided to go to Confession to a little retired Jesuit priest, told him I thought I had a vocation, and burst into tears! Poor Father, he didn’t know what to do with me!

A few months later (during which I wavered back and forth, back and forth!) I was attending Sr. Marie André’s Investment in Alabama and I was able to speak with Mother Angelica. I was pretty sure she was going to tell me I was crazy and I didn’t have a vocation and that would be the end of it. Well, after about a minute of my pathetic stammering, she said to me, “Yes, you have a vocation.” I was shocked and relieved and then, really, really happy! I headed out to St. Michael’s Hall and at the time, there was a picture hanging there of a young boy. It was actually a picture of the Old Testament Joseph in his multi-colored coat, but when I looked at it, the memory of my dream came flooding back to me. It was a very comforting and enlightening confirmation from Our Lord.

I was just reading in a document from the Holy See where we as religious are called to be vocation animators. I pray my story and the sisters’ stories lead many young people to discern whether Our Lord is calling them to lead a life consecrated wholly to Him. I can only say that during my religious life, with all its struggles and trials, I have never known such joy. Our Eucharistic Lord is this Joy, my very Life.

“I do so dearly believe that no half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the Light unflinchingly.”
~J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday, 14 July 2008


I have to say, I have nothing against Vatican II... I just don't like the way it was interpreted.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Here I am Lord, Send Me

Feeling in one of my Youth 2000 moods today! This guy actually has a fantastic voice and I think the video works well with all the scripture.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Rough Sea's

The Monks of Papa Stronsay (who are now in the process seeking communion with Rome) were featured on a documentary a while back... This is well worth a watch (if you have a spare 20 mins).

These guys are hardcore... Mass at 4:00AM! I could barely make half 7 when I was in seminary never mind 4AM.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Unfinished Thoughts

Yet another example of how spectacular the Classical Guitar really is...

Thursday, 10 July 2008

How to build a new world

Get a pipe organ like this:

Heads up to Pellegrinaggio Cross the Ponte Sisto is a blog I dip into now and then.


Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Special Day

Today is a special day for me, this evening I make my engagement for the Hospitalite De Notre Dame De Lourdes.

Please remember my friends Gavin, Julian who will join me in committing our lives to coming to Lourdes year on year; for the sick, disabled and all those who want to come to 'bathe in the water'. We all did our first stage together and have been friends ever since. This also year also marks the 6th anniversary of my coming home to the Church and to the faith that I love.

Please also remember in your prayers my Grandfather Paul Johnston who served in Lourdes for over 50 years and for 25 years made his commitment to the Hospitalite De Notre Dame he was also a former Chief Brancardier of the St. Andrews and Edinburgh Pilgrimage. He's a man never far away in my prayers and used to take me to Mass every morning to serve before School. requiescat in pace.

This is a particularly special year to be able to do this in as it's in the Jubilee year celebrating the 150th anniversary of the apparitions to St. Bernadette.

For those who want to know more about the Stage, write in the combox and I'll reply when I get home.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Trad's do it Ad Orientem

Ad Orientem is Back!

Thanks to Love of Your Love for this

I had read about this previously, but I hadn't actually seen it. Marvelous...

Monday, 7 July 2008

Open our Eyes

This is an excellent video clip talking about the blind man and how we can too be blinded by thinking we know how God will work. The sound quality isn't so good, but it's well worth a listen.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

St. Maria Goretti

If it wasn't on a Sunday this year, today we'd be celebrating the feast of St. Maria Goretti...

Here is her story:

One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti.

She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class.

On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help, gasping that she would be killed rather than submit. “No, God does not wish it. It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger.

She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum. She died about 24 hours after the attack.

Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother.

Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.

I took this from American Catholic - really decent site, even has a St. Anthony search engine haha.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

The Eucharist - A Symbol?

I think one of the crisis's we meet in the Church today is that we view the Eucharist as a symbol, rather than the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. When I was young, I thought the Eucharist was a symbol; just a pointless act of remembrance. I like the story from George Weigals book about Flannery O'Connor were she said 'well if it's a symbol, then to hell with it'. I completely agree.

Many leave the Church simply because they don't know the faith; modern forms of Catechises have taken the shape of wild liturgies. Recently I was at a School with Pax Christi who's idea of a liturgy was to have some Scottish plainchant (not one of the things that makes me proud to be a Scot), long winded prayers about peace (which have no meaning unless you first recognise that peace is a fruit of something i.e. Justice) and which talk about issues such as poverty (which is important, but far removed from issues which matter to the students such as day-to-day life relationships, chastity, morals, life and faith). No wonder the kids were laughing all the way through.

When faith becomes something removed from our lives and transferred onto more Amnesty International terms we loose something of the meaning. I'm not saying we shouldn't care about human rights, of course we should, but bearing witness to the divine meaning of life applies at all levels of life and not just to dictatorships. Applying that principle in some circumstances rather than in all waters down our faith which has it's summit in the Eucharist - the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. There has to be a renewal of Catechises in this country which doesn't treat kids as morons and which doesn't adapt the C-Beebies approach to communication.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Oil and Me

A Catholic take on the fuel Crisis ;)

Thursday, 3 July 2008


One of my fondest memories of seminary was our visit to Rome in March 2007. Rome is a place I've always wanted to visit and when we went there, I felt as if I was home myself.

The thing that I will never forget was our visit to the Scavi. For those who've never been or who do know know what it is, Scavi literally means excavations (sorry if I'm wrong). After Puis XI died, the people of Milan wanted to honor his memory (as he'd been their bishop before his election as Supreme Pontiff); they built a huge marble tomb and sent it to Rome to be fitted underneath St. Peters Basilica. According to George Weigal it was simply too big...

I always find Italians funny people - in Lourdes they won't share lifts with you and in Edinburgh they've all but taken over - so it was no surprise when Weigal mentions that it being to big might have just been a Roman pride issue as the Milanese are apparently quite efficient. Whatever the reason, Pius XII ordered the floor to be lowered to allow for the new tomb... What was found was an entire Roman set of streets and tombs and the remains of St. Peter.

When you walk in the Scavi you feel literally as if you've been transported in time. You walk along what was a Roman Street (Vatican Hill) and you see early tombs and also the graffiti which was everywhere. Modern Rome is full of Graffiti so it's good to know not much has changed in 2000 years. I actually got a telling off from the tour guide as being curious I climbed into one of the excavations (just to have a look you understand). She was quite good about it really, she came up quietly and asked if I understood the significance of where I was... Needless to say my head was held low of a few moments.

What makes the whole thing stunning is that above is St. Peters and you are down walking around the final resting place of St. Peter the Rock. When the excavations were taking place Rome was occupied by the Nazi's, so the archaeologists must have worked there largely in secret. I wonder what they were thinking as they slowly discovered that lost city underneath the Holy Roman Church.

When you exit the Scavi you come into the tombs of the Popes, personally speaking I've never been so moved in my life. You are amongst the men who guided the Church through the good and bad and who were chosen by God to lead his Church. My own favourite is John Paul II's tomb. The steady line of people passing through makes it hard to stay there for any period of time, but I managed to get to the side of the stream of people and kneel for what seemed like a few moments (but was closer to 15 minutes) and pay my respects to the man who helped me come home.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Quick Update

Well Im here in Lourdes...

Sorry about the spelling and bad grammer; its the french keyboard.

I cant find anything out re the extraordinary form Mass... I mentioned it to someone fairly high up last night and was told its 'a senstive issue': I have also enquired to a few friends who live and work here but its almost as if the mass doesn't exist. hmph!!!

Last night I registered my stagé with the Hospitalité and this year I've been given more of a free reign to work at the station and airport... I am pleased as its very intense when you work in the sanctuary either in the grotto and or the baths. You have to remember many people wait all of their lives to come and bathe in the water and when you're struggeling yourself its hard to help those prepare for the moment properly. I also met quite a few of my regular readers... One of them introduced me to his friends as 'The Mad Trad'. Nice to know the brand is working.

Say a prayer for me please!

Bach was Spanish...

...No he wasn't really, but I thought that would get you fellow mad trad music lovers going. Here is Bach's Cello Suite No. 1. Notice it's on a guitar (see I told you it was a fantastic instrument).

One of the reasons I like guitar so much is because it lacks the diversity that other instruments have; even a piece which is composed for eastern european music or for the ancient psalms end up sounding like a spanish dance of some sort. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Off to Lourdes

By the time most of you read this I'll be in Lourdes. I'll be here for 18 days so the I've put a thin line of blogs ready to cover the period. Here is a tribute to Lourdes by a great organist - enjoy!!