Rocky Horror: The Inner Frog De Mello Workshop

This is my debut on the RCC so I hope they’ll forgive me relapsing into old habits.

We all need to lift our hearts after losing the Ashes, so what better way than a bit of New Age therapy?Fr Tim reported on this recently, after Fr Sean Finnegan became aware of the Emmaus retreat centre’s De Mello Prayer Workshop.

The RCC has been given transcripts of the last similar day run at another retreat centre in Old Erin. We give the transcript below as a taster for the many readers here who will no doubt be attending the DeMello Workshop:[Man with a rainbow-colour sweater and an idiotic grin takes the microphone and addresses the assembled company, arranged in an inclusive, non-hierarchical way]

Br Rainbow (formerly Br Ignatius): Failte! Well, sure, and aren’t you all welcome to the Road to Damascus New Age Massage, Retreat and Conference Centre (formerly St Brendan’s Monastery) for this “Frog Prayer” Experience Day. I recognise some of the faces here: Bishop Gumbleton – great to see you! Sr Skylark, there from the Enneagram Day last month; Oh, and Deaconess Daphne from the Crystal Spirituality Week, welcome. Oh, yes and there’s Ms Vandenburg, our first womynpriest here – congrats on your watery ordination…ha, ha, ha….ahem…well…. Nice poncho, by the way. Give me a hug.
[He hugs a rather stony-faced woman in a poncho. Hugs all round. ]Just some housekeeping to start off with: have you all brought your vegan lunch-to-share with you? That’s great, now. We love sharing here. I’d like to introduce two of the facilitators for today’s course Sr Spirit-Flame (formerly Sr Brigid-Mary-Teresa) of the Sisters of Perpetual Indecisiveness(rather aged, grey-haired woman in a pair of slacks and an Aran sweater holding a set of maracas hobbles forward)

I’m so glad you’re here and here’s a little known fact – Sr Spirit-Flame is currently the youngest member of her religious order! Great to have the youth here!

And also here is my confrere/comrade/buddy, Br Dancing-Trousers (formerly Br Declan) who will provide the music for today. (A whey-faced idiot in a Che Guevara tee-shirt, cord flares and sandals, a guitar strung round his neck steps forward giving a John Lennon/Tony Blair/Bono “peace” sign)

Now, for those of you who don’t know this centre, it’s run by ourselves, the Christian Brothers (soon to be renamed the the-Happy-Band-Of -Multifaith–Siblings-Of-All-Men-Women-And-Transgender-People).

You will all have read Angela’s Ashes or any number of books describing a miserable Irish Catholic childhood and will know that this order was responsible for a great deal of anguish and pain in enforcing our so-called Catholic beliefs on lots of poor children and making Ireland a benighted, priest-ridden, alcohol-fuelled haven of domestic violence, suppressed sexuality and medieval superstition (© Frank McCourt, Ken Loach, Peter Mullen, Neil Jordan)

Well, we like to begin these sessions with an act of humility and a begging of forgiveness. We will move a stone each from this nasty pile here – the Pile of Bad Karma to the Pile of Good Karma: make sure you don’t take from the wrong pile – we don’t want trouble with our piles, now, do we?

Opening Cultural Cringe

Oh Lord of the Dance (or whatever deity you follow) and all the ancient spirits of the Old Celtic peoples, give us a warm hug of forgiveness for all the bad things we (or those who came before us) have done including the Inquisition, the Crusades, the potato famine (although Tony Blair copped a plea on that one), slavery (ditto), compulsory PE, corporal punishment, cold showers, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, all other phobias, Dana and Daniel O’Donnell)

Lead us from war to peace
Lead us from black to beige
Lead us from nasty to nice
Lead us from negativity to positivity
Lead us from Large to Little
Lead us from Morecambe to Wise
Lead us from Val Doonican to Van Morrison
Lead us from dogma to dharma
Lead us from teaching to Tai Chi
Lead us from hierarchy to hugs-all-round.

These positive thoughts we make in the name of the earth-mother, Blessed Joan of Chittister herself (peace be upon her)

Participants: Amen to that, brother. (or “Right on” or “Yeah, baby, yeah” or “Catch yerself on, y’auld eejit”)

Br Rainbow: OK, we all feel better now, don’t we?
[Muttered agreement]

Participants: Yes, we do.

Br Rainbow: Well, our karmas are cleared, our consciences cleansed, our ummah is on the up and our samadhi is sorted! On to the business of the day, and we’re going to start with a little song. Gather round this meditation table with a nice homemade candle on it and we’ll sing a little song to get us all in the mood. This is from our Cuddly-Toy brethren, the Muppets. I’ve been called a “Muppet” myself often enough and you know, I’m deeply touched by that, as I like to think of myself as having some of the wisdom of these little fellas.

[Br Dancing-Trousers starts to warble:]

It’s not that easy being green
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold
Or something much more colorful like that

It’s not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over ‘cause you’re
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

But green’s the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree
When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful
And I think it’s what I want to be

© Kermit O’Frog Br Rainbow: And now, some words of wisdom from the great guru, Tony de Mello. Over to you, Spirit-Flame, you crazy cat.[Sr Spirit-Flame, a rather doddery old lass, ambles over to the lectern and fumbles with her book. She reads, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.]

And now a reading from Blessed Anthony of Mello (peace be upon him)

With the present Notification, in order to protect the good of the
Christian faithful, this Congregation declares that the above-mentioned
positions are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm.
Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
June 24, 1998, the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist.
Card. Ratzinger, Prefect
 +Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., Archbishop
Emeritus of Vercelli, Secretary

Oops! I seem to have read from the wrong page – nasty Ratzinger! Nasty man! I’ll start again: And now a reading from Blessed Anthony of Mello (peace be upon him)

Participants: Get on with it!

One day, Brother Krishnashantiramalama was walking in the garden of the ashram when he saw a frog on a stone by a pond. He leant down to the frog and asked him this question: ‘Why do you say the same old things over and over again? “Ribbit-ribbit-ribbit” is all you say. What else do you have to say for
yourself?’ “Ribbit-ribbit-ribbit” said the frog. Just then a heron swooped down
and ate the frog. “Verily”, said the sage “This frog has taught me much of the
transitory nature of this life” So he sat on a stone for the next 20
years, eating flies and saying “Ribbit” until one day he tried to hop across the
main Mumbai-Kalikut road and was run over by an articulated lorry.
Which goes to show, my precious one, how transitory this life is.

This is the word of the Lord Krishna

Punters: Thanks be to Karma.

Br Rainbow: Wasn’t that just lovely now? What wisdom there is in the ancient teachings of the East. So I’d like us now to do our special exercise for today – to discover your Inner Frog.

First could you put on your special costumes. There are male, female, gay and transgender changing facilities, just off this prayer-meeting-resource. Then make sure you put on your head, er, thingies and your flippers
The participants return looking like this:

Br Rainbow: Sure, you look grand!
OK now, I’d like you to all squat down round this baptistery/water fountain feature (£24.99 from B&Q, batteries not included) and repeat after me: “Ribbit!”

Assembled hippies: “Ribbit!”

Br Rainbow: Louder!

Assembled hippies: “RIBBIT!”

Br Rainbow: Again!

 Br Rainbow: Do you feel better?

Assembled hippies: Oh, yes!!!!!!!

Br Rainbow: Good – it’s all about you, guys!

Br Rainbow: Grand. It’s great to have had you here. Do take advantage of the complementary Indian Head Massage. Why? Because you’re worth it! That’s our motto. Could you make your cheques for €750 inc VAT @ 17.5% for the day’s activities to “Road to Damascus New Age Scams-R-Us” and give them to Sr Spirit-Flame or Br Dancing-Trousers on the way out? We do accept all major credit cards. Finally, over to you, Dancing-Trousers!

Br Dancing-Trousers: Now for the final part of the day’s activities, our final song is that lovely piece by St Paul of McCartney, the Frog Chorus. Many people think this is by Estelle White. “That’s Estelle White!” they say when I sing it and I can see why you would think such a popular spiritual classic would be by the great Estelle, especially since it captures the “Spirit of the Council” so well. If I don’t get to see you before you leave don’t forget to leave your cheques, or we’ll put the Garda on you! Ha!Ha!Ha!

Farewell! Adieu! Shalom! Salaam! Shanti! Slainte! and may your god go with you.

Assembled hippies, still squatting in their frog costumes link arms and sway in time to the music:

Win or lose, sink or swim
One thing is certain well never give in
Side by side, hand in hand
We all stand together

Play the game, fight the fight
But whats the point on a beautiful night?
Arm in arm, hand in handWe all stand together
Keeping us warm in the night
La la la la
Walk in the night
Youll get it right

Win or lose, sink or swim
One thing is certain well never give in
Side by side, hand in hand
We all stand together

© St Paul of McCartney/Leg-To-Stand-On Songs

[Assembled hippies depart into the Dublin suburbs, their karma €750 lighter…….]


Tribute to the greatest

Yesterday was a sad day for game of cricket. The spin master and no doubt the greatest Australian player since Don Bradman announced his retirement. I talk of Shane Keith Warne.

Despite your views about his off-field antics the guy is a genius of cricket. The statistics show it all: 143 tests, 699 wickets at an average of 25.49 and an economy rate of 2.65 which is astounding for a slow bowler. And what a fitting way to bow out, after regaining the Ashes, taking his 700 scalp in front of his home crowd and with every trophy in the cabinet.

Warne revealed that he would have retired after the 2005 Ashes series, had Australia managed to retain them. “But this is my time, and getting the Ashes back was my mission, and I couldn’t have worked the script any better. When it’s your time you just know.” He also said he would have stayed in the team had Australia lost the series.

One of the top five Wisden cricketers of the century, Warne has had his international fans and I’m sure the members of the RCC can admire him for his talents and to turn the ball the way he can.

How is this for a scenario for Warne’s 700th on day one of the MCG Test?

Pietersen K.     b Warne SK.     0.

Who else will retire from the current Australian squad after Sydney in January? I expect McGrath and Langer are feeling some pressure and will retire shortly thereafter. Gilchrist was under pressure until his record breaking century in Perth.

The question also is who will replace the greats? There are a number of Australian batsmen on the scene and a few pace bowlers such as Shaun Tait but what about the leggie and the keeper. I’m really not sure about who the standout second keeper is at the moment but there are four or five young spinners in the ranks of which Dan Cullen, I believe, is the only contracted player at the moment (of course there is always the also ageing Stuart MacGill).

Warne was not the only retirement of the week with Steve Harmison announcing that he would no-longer be playing One Day International cricket and Geraint Jones days appear to be numbered with his exclusion from the squad. The only positive is the inclusion in the squad of Michael Vaughan.

England Expects – Can Henry deliver?

In a corner of the RCC clubhouse (conveniently near the bar) is a widescreen television which is dedicated to sports not involving leather on willow. This member has been watching it very often of late as he follows the unfolding drama at Twickenham, home of Rugby Football.

As is well known, England Rugby’s head coach, Andy Robinson, was relieved of his duties in November after a run of bad results that rather inconveniently stretched back to the beginning of his reign in 2004. The big news this week was that, despite warnings from Rob Andrew (director of Elite rugby at the RFU) that the search for a replacement could take till after the rugby world cup next summer, a new head coach had been found. That man was announced as being Brian Ashton, currently the attack coach for the national team.

It is an interesting appointment. Ashton, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Henry Cooper, has had a chequered career. Highly successful at Bath Rugby between 1989 – 96, less so as head coach of Ireland between 1996 – 98, Ashton’s first stint with England was as an assistant to Sir Clive Woodward between 1998 – 2002. Given that England went on to win the RWC in 2003 you might have thought that this was a marriage made in heaven. Not quite, for in the words of Sir Clive, Ashton was ‘[n]ot that good in terms of winning international rugby matches.’

So, where does this leave him now? Firstly, despite Sir Clive’s dismissal of him, I think we can be confident that Ashton is a good coach and is as good a man as any to get England out of its present rut. You mention Ireland, I’ll mention Bath – plus the fact that some of the best England players past and present vouch for him. Secondly, it leaves Ashton very vulnerable to being wounded by the slings and arrows of the press. Because he has had his lows as well as highs, I do not think Ashton will be given a very long honeymoon by Fleet Street. Come the Six Nations in February, he will be expected to start with a win and to keep on winning thereafter.

If England fail to deliver the goods, although the RFU are denying that he is a stop gap appointment until after the RWC, that could well be what he becomes. Thirdly, it leaves Ashton within touching distance – yes, even so – of the kind of glory that Roman generals dreamed of. The England national team is not a poor side. It is simply a very good side that has lost its way.

We lost badly to the All Blacks this autumn, but a year ago the team came within a whisker of beating the best team in the world. At the 2006 Six Nations, only a dodgy referring decision prevented a win against another in form team, Ireland. If Ashton can find the magic ingredient, he would amaze the rugby world and – even if not bring victory to England in the Six Nations and RWC – then restore a great deal of long lost pride that could act as a springboard to greater success in the future.

Only time will tell whether Ashton is given his triumph or is made to fall on his sword. But this reporter hopes with all his heart that our Brian can deliver the knock out punch.

New members

rccbadge.GIFIt is with great pleasure that I announce that the ranks are swelling here at the RCC.

Three new members have been duely elected in the last week and it is with much pride that I name them here.

First, the famous, if not eponymous, author of Cally’s Kitchen has joined the club and shall be posting, when the mood takes him, as Per Roma.

It is with great distress that I noted the hibernation of the superb In Hoc Signo Vinces in recent days. But it is with unbounded joy that I can now say Paulinus has joined the club and will favour us from time to time.

Fr Paul Harrison has become our second clerical member and, being Lancastrian, is bred to recusance and cricket. He shall be posting as the Great Gable.

These great & good men now mean that the RCC can boast a full XI, not that this should in anyway discourage those who may wish to join us.

A whiff of sulpher – Vatican flirts with the dark side

Regardless of the liturgical pigeon holes we may climb into, a cause has come to the fore which will surely unite all good men and true in the defense of Holy Mother Church from a (no doubt well intentioned) detesable enormity being considered.

New Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone has publicly expressed a desire to embroil the Church in Association Rules football. He has gone as far as to suggest a Vatican XI should be formed and pitted against professional sports-persons.

Quoted in a number of mass media sources, the Cardinal said:

“In the future, the Vatican could assemble a football team of great value and could compete with Roma, Inter Milan and Sampdoria (Association teams based in Italy)… were we to involve the Brazilian priests it would be magnificent.”

The evil malaise of this perverted pastime is all too apparent here in England – leading as it does to lager drinking, an inability to pronounce the letter ‘H’ and other attendant vices. Yet Cardinal Bertone may not be aware of the rotten fruit of this tempting tree. Far better that the Church should adopt a sport comensurate with Christian living. 

The recent tour of the RCC to the Vatican has laid the groundwork for showcasing the far more erudite and Catholic game of cricket – a sport which celebrates charity, respect for authority, patience and tradition. A more vocal stand must now be taken; not only in this country but in the Vatican and former Papal States.

There is already a great legacy of cricket in Rome; the Venerable English College has played the sport throughout its existence and maintains a good wicket outside the walls of the city.

AC Milan, who I am told are currently cock-of-the-walk in Italian football, are so named because they began life as the Cricket Association of Milan, founded by British men living in the city – to this day the club badge displays the cross of St George.

Building on this rich heritage should prove easy. I have little doubt that the excitable Italians will see the patience needed for our noble game as the perfect tonic for their famous Mediterranean variability. I encourage all members and readers to lay hold of their nearest Italian prelate and give him a set of Botham’s Ashes.   

The final ignominy

Our man inside the Narayanhity Royal Palace, Kathmandu reports the sad news that His Majesty King Gyanendra has finally been stripped of even his ceremonial roles. The new interim constitution, agreed (as it happens, unconstitutionally) by the Seven-Party Alliance Government and the Maoist rebels late on Saturday night officially suspends the institution of monarchy and makes the Prime Minister de facto head of state. The Constituent Assembly, expected to meet for the first time next June, will definitively decide on the monarchy’s fate – and all pundits are predicting that this will spell the end of the crown and the dawn of a new republican era.

Our man, hidden behind the Royal drinks cabinet for almost half a year now, reports that His Majesty is not a little miffed by proceedings. He has now abandoned the capital for another palace in the south of the country, apparently on the advice of his royal astrologers (yes – the same astrologers who gave him the benefit of such good advice when he assumed absolute power last year). We have to sympathise with the King – in the space of eight months he has gone from absolute monarch and ruler of his people, to the laughing stock of south-east Asia with no powers and at the mercy of Maoist terrorists. He has been betrayed, spat upon and humiliated. Even his few public supporters are now hounded out of meeting halls in Kathmandu and viciously attacked by murderous Maoist students.

The future does indeed look bleak for His Majesty, despite the sustained public support for retaining the monarchy. Here at the RCC we would like to wish His Majesty well, and hope that this madness in Nepal will quickly pass. Then, triumphant, His Majesty can once again rule his loyal people with wisdom and magnanimity. God save the King!

It ain’t over ’til McGrath opens his mouth.

In all the good action films there comes a scene where our hero is being thrashed, usually in fisty-cuffs, and looks beyond redemption. Then his gloating foe crosses some unseen line – utters a taunt to close to home – and our hero narrows his bruised eyes, grits his teeth and the audience mutter to a man “He shouldn’t of said that.”

During the last series after the Lord’s test, Glen McGrath foresaw a whitewash and the rest is history.

After the first test this time round the baggies were rather more circumspect. Then came a gritty display by England followed by the most abject one day collapse I have ever seen. And then up pops Glen again talking about 5-0.

What followed was a glittering vindication of just about every critic Duncan and Freddie have amassed in the past month.

England went for broke, finally dropped the wheelybin and the hapless Anderson and picked their best team. A five wicket haul by an English spinner against Australia, in Australia is something few of us ever thought we would see.

Monty confused, intimidated and faced down successive Australian challengers. Better than that; his attitude swept the ground and, at last, saw Steve Harmison return to form.

Coming into this series, much had been made of the friendship between Flintoff and Harmison, but in the end it is Monty who has dragged the Geordie back from the dead. It was the sweetest of sights to see him charging in and bullying Glen McGrath out of his wicket, bouncing him out in short order.

England have a massive mountain to climb but when you saw the look in Harmison’s eye as he faced McGrath you could not help but think; “He really shouldn’t have said that.”