Sunday, 25 January 2015

When Classical Music meets Rock Music

I like Classical Music. I like Rock Music. I like Reggae. I like music – All kinds of the stuff. I’m a huge music fan – You may be surprised to know that  I am not a fan of any artiste, just their music (well some anyway), although I do admire their abilities.

These days I find myself listening to Classical Music arranged and adapted to rock… well, mostly Rock. I have compiled a list of what I am into for anyone who might be also interested.

Mason Williams – Classical Gas. Maybe not a real classical piece, but that acoustic version from 1970 is fantastic.

David Garett is a German pop and crossover violinist. His band is a full on pop band with drums, keyboards, guitar, bass and of course he plays violin. David holds the Guiness world record for the fastest violinist (to earn that record he played flight of the bumble bee). He covers rock (zeppelin, Nirvana etc) and of course does classical pieces. Two of my favourite pieces are  - AIR in G-Major (bach) and Palladio (jenkins)

Emerson Lake and Palmer – Fanfare for the common Man (Copeland) - known as a progressive Rock Supergroup of the 1970’s ELP’s version is long but not too bad. It peaked at Number 2 in the British music charts in 1977. What trips me is that Greg Lake plays an 8 String Alembic Bass.

The Electric Light Orchestra – In the Hall of the Mountain King (Grieg). ELO holds the record for having the most amount of top 40 hits, without having a number one single. A well loved band, but maybe not that well loved. They also recorded a cover of the  chuck berry song “Roll over Beethoven” and infused Beethoven’s music into it.

Daniel Tidwell -  Heavy Metal. Daniel has an album which he sells on his website. It is called “Echoes of the Elders”. It has four tracks. He stays true to the songs yet they are Heavy  Metal. Pretty Good – Fur Elise (Beethoven),  Palladio Rock (Jenkins), Rondo Alla Turca (Mozart), and Tidwell’s Canon  (Pachelbel). He also has two Christmas Albums and a whole bunch of covers of Video Game music. He also does Queen of the Night from the Magic Flute by (Mozart)

Vanessa Mae – Vanessa describes her music as “Violin Techno acoustic fusion.” And her body of work is quite varied. She is a classical Violinist and has albums of classical violin music with full orchestra. She was commissioned to write a song for Hong Kong when China took repossession. It is called “Happy Valley (the 1997 re-unification overture)”. But she has some Pop albums that are pretty Good : “The Violin Player” and “Kids Classics” are two that Stand out to me. In relation to Songs I would recommend her versions of Tocata en Fugue in D Minor (JS Bach). Also Flight of the Bumble Bee (Rimsky Korsakov). And lastly an all out pop dance song which she calls “(i) can can (you)” which is really her adaptation of the Infernal Gallop from Orpheus in the underworld (Offenbach).

Sir Malcolm Henry Arnold CBE – composer of Symphony #6  Op 95, Which was played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on the 1969 Deep Purple Album “Concerto For Group and Orchestra” – Well it’s more orchestra than Rock, but what the Hey!

Les Fradkin – Canon in D (Pachelbel) and Classical Gas (Williams). He uses this weird guitar and keyboard hybrid called a Starr Labs Ztar. Not a bad song.

Aria Asia – Canon in D (Pachelbel) – Well this is a Japanese Violinist. But make no mistake, this is Rock - A great version

Dieter Falk and sons -  Badinerie (bach ochestral suite 2). Falk is a German pianist, Keyboardist, Christian (protestant) composer, arranger and record producer. The Music is Jazz, but it is fantastic. It comes off of his 2011 Album "Celebrate Bach". 

Therion - O Fortuna (Carl Orff) – Therion describes themselves as Symphonic Metal. Key to their music is the fact that they have multiple vocalists who sing in the style of opera. Yet as far as I know this is their only classical piece. They do covers too. I personally like their cover of Abba’s “Summer night city”.

Jigsaw - Jesu Joy Of Man`s Desiring (bach). Released in 1971 by Britains Jigsaw the version of this classical piece is described as pop, but if you didn’t know you might think you were listening to the Doors.

Seree Lee  - Seree is guitarist from Thailand. In 2002 he released a Rock album of Classical Music called “Classical Axe”. The album is available on his website. I love it. His arrangements are fantastic. Here are my favourite songs off the album : Minuet in G (bach), Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Mozart) and Hungarian dance no 5 (brahms)

Katona Twins – This is Acoustic Music. These identical twin brothers from Hungary are described as the best known duo in classical music. Their repertoire includes Classical, Tango and Spanish guitar. Their album “Guitar freaks” are acoustic covers of classic rock songs. However they have several albums of classical music. One song stands out for me - Toreador (bizet) It is really the Overture from Carmen which slides into the Toreador song from Carmen, but that’s ok, whatever it is called, I still love it.

Wolf Hoffman is the guitarist for the German Heavy Metal band Accept. In 1997 he released a solo album called “Classical” in which he adapted several classical pieces of music to rock. This is not a heavy metal album, but it sure rocks.  Here are a few of my favourites off the album: Habanera (bizet), Blues For Elise (beethovan) and Pomp & Circumstance (elgar)

Lukie Carelsen – Lukie has two albums of great interest to me. “Rockin’ Classics – Classical Electric Rock” and “Rockin’ Gospel – Classical Electric Rock”. Lukie formed Maranatha Records in 1984 in South Africa as a studio dedicated to Christian artists and their music. I like Lukies music. Here are a few tracks that stand out for me. Aida (verdi), Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring (bach), Symphony No 5 (beethoven), Symphony Nr 9 (ode to joy) (beethoven), Trumpet Voluntary in D major (purcell) and The William Tell Overture (rossini)

Ulytau – Wikipedia describes Ulytau as literally meaning "the great mountain" Ulytau is a Turkic instrumental folk metal trio from Kazakhstan. Their music combines the sound of the violin and electric guitar with the Dombra (a traditional two stringed instrument from their country) It a project of one album. There are a few classical pieces on the album and I love them all. Turkish March (mozart sonata 11 a), Winter (Vivaldi's Four Seasons) and Tocata en Fugue (JS Bach). Oh the name of the album is “Jumyr-Kylysh” (2006). It was released in Germany in 2009 as “Two Warriors”

Tarja Turunen – Ave Maria (Shubert)- This former vocalist from the Finnish Metal band Nightwish has long been fan of classical music.  I don’t think I have ever heard a bad recording of either version of the Ave Maria (Shubert or Gonoud), and this one is no exception.

Me first and the Gimme Gimme’s – O Sole Mio (translates as “my sunshine”). Well, this 1898 song has been done by so many classical vocalists and some not-classical-at-all vocalists. Even Elvis Presley had a version with the song “it’s now or never” where he used the melody but changed the words. “The Gimme gimme’s”  is a punk band, so don’t have high expectations. I think it’s a hoot though. I play it all the time.

Romance AnĂ²nimo (guitar) – this anonymous piece of beautiful music has been performed by so many people. Almost every version sounds so beautiful.

Trans Siberian Orchestra – Jon Oliva formed the Metal Band Savatage – which later changed their sound to Progressive Rock. They had several Concept albums which could be described as rock opera’s including “Wake of Megellan” and “Dead Winter Dead”.The side project of Savatage was “The Trans Siberian Orchestra”, also Jon Oliva. This side project released five albums, all dealing with Christmas. The songs were  Traditional, classical and other.  I particularly like Beethovens 5th Symphony, Sarajevo Midnight December 24th and  Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Be advised this is Metal.

Yngwie  Malmsteen is a swedish Metal Guitarist known for his classical style of playing music. He has a few Classical works which I find interesting -  40th Symphony (mozart), 5th Symphony (beethoven), Canon in D (pachelbel), Paganini's 5th Caprice, and Rondo Alla Turca (mozart sonata 11 a).

Epica is a Dutch Symphonic Metal Band. Their version of Hall of the Mountain King (Grieg) is not the best I’ve Heard.  Neither is their version of The Imperial March (Williams) I mean, why do we have to use double kick bass drums in this track. Metal fans may enjoy it though.

Metallica – The Imperial March (also known as Darth Vadars Theme) (John Williams). What more can be said?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy "Mary Mother of God" feast to you 2015

Yes it's January first. Yes its 2015. Yes its a new year. But for us Catholics it is the feast of our Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the feast of Mary, Mother of God. Since the early second century there has been wall paintings giving honour to Mary. I have looked through many works of art depicting mother and child. From the birth of Christ until his death and after - such as the Pieta, etc. I have found that I like Titian ( or Tiziano Vecellio) and his work "Mary with Child , and saints" the painting was done around 1510 AD.

So we give thanks to God the Father today as we celebrate the holy vessel that would be the Mother of Jesus our Lord.


Thursday, 11 December 2014

back in the saddle - about this "all dogs go to heaven" talk from the Pope

Well, perhaps it's God's will. For quite a few months I have been unable to access my blog. I am happy to say I can once more do so and I am going to blog again. So look out for me.

Now some time ago I wondered about the difference between souls and spirit. I found out that catholic teaching on the subject is that God IS spirit and that we are spirit. We contain a soul, which is the spark that animates us in our bodies. So that we are body soul and spirit.

I have also been taught that animals have a soul that animates them. they have bodies that rot when the soul leaves and that they do not have a spirit. What is this about the Pope saying that animals go to heaven. Isn't that counter to the teachings of the church? Are we then to assume that if animals go to heaven that they go to hell too. And what about plants, insects, fish and other creatures?

Alas! Who knows anymore? Sigh!

Friday, 15 August 2014

The Burial and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


The funeral procession followed the Way of the Cross set up by the Blessed Virgin right up to the last Station, and then went over the hill in front of that Station and stopped at the right of the entrance to the tomb. Here they laid down the holy body, and then four of them carried it into the burial-chamber in the rock and laid it in the place hollowed out for it. All those present went in one by one and laid spices and flowers beside the body, kneeling down and offering up their prayers and their tears.

Many lingered there in love and sorrow, and night had fallen when the Apostles closed the entrance to the tomb. They dug a trench before the narrow entrance of the rock-tomb, and planted in it a hedge of various shrubs brought with their roots from elsewhere. Some had leaves, some blossoms, and some berries. They made the water from a near-by spring flow in front of the hedge, so that no trace of the entrance to the tomb could be seen and none could enter the cave without forcing a way round behind the hedge. They went away in scattered groups, some remaining to pray and watch by the tomb, others stopping to pray here and there at the Stations of the Cross. Those who were on their way home saw from the distance a strange radiance over Mary's tomb, which moved them to wonder, though they did not know what it really was. I saw it, too, but of all that I saw I remember only the following. It was as if a shaft of light descended from heaven towards the tomb, and in this shaft was a lovely form like the soul of the Blessed Virgin, accompanied by the form of Our Lord. Then the body of the Blessed Virgin, united to the shining soul, rose shining out of the grave and soared up to heaven with the figure of Our Lord. All this lies in my memory as something half realized and yet distinct.

In the night I saw several of the Apostles and holy women praying and singing in the little garden in front of the rock-tomb. A broad shaft of light came down from heaven to the rock, and I saw descending in it a triple-ringed glory of angels and spirits surrounding the appearance of Our Lord and of the shining soul of Mary. The appearance of Jesus Christ, whose wound-marks were streaming with light, moved down in front of her soul. Round the soul of Mary, in the innermost circle of the glory, I saw only little figures of children; in the midmost circle they appeared as six-year-old children; and in the outermost circle as grown-up youths. I could see only the faces clearly, all the rest I saw as shimmering figures of light. As this vision, becoming ever clearer, streamed down upon the rock, I saw a shining path opened and leading up to the heavenly Jerusalem. Then I saw the soul of the Blessed Virgin, which had been following the appearance of Jesus, pass in front of Him, and float down into the tomb. Soon afterwards I saw her soul, united to her transfigured body, rising out of the tomb far brighter and clearer, and ascending into the heavenly Jerusalem with Our Lord and with the whole glory. Thereupon all the radiance faded again, and the quiet starry sky covered the land.

I do not know whether the Apostles and holy women praying before the tomb saw all this in the same manner, but I saw them looking upwards in adoration and amazement, or throwing themselves down full of awe with their faces to the ground. I saw, too, how several of those who were praying and singing by the Way of the Cross as they carried home the empty bier turned back with great reverence and devotion towards the light above the rock-tomb.

Thus I did not see the Blessed Virgin die in the usual manner, nor did I see her go up to heaven; but I saw that first her soul and then her body were taken from the earth.

On returning to the house the Apostles and disciples partook of a little food and then went to rest. They slept outside the house in sheds built onto it. Mary's maidservant, who had remained in the house to set things in order, and the other women who had stayed there to help her, slept in the room behind the hearth. During the burial the maidservant had cleared everything out of this, so that it now looked like a little chapel; and thenceforward the Apostles used it for prayer and for offering the Holy Sacrifice. This evening I saw them still in their own room, praying and mourning. The women had already gone to rest. Then I saw the Apostle Thomas and two companions, all girt up, arrive at the gate of the courtyard and knock to be let in. There was a disciple with him called Jonathan, who was related to the Holy Family. [196] His other companion was a very simple-minded man from the land of the farthest of the three holy kings, which I always call Partherme, [197] not being able to recall names exactly. Thomas had brought him from there; he carried his cloak and was an obedient, child-like servant. A disciple opened the gate, and Thomas went with Jonathan into the Apostles' room, telling his servant to sit at the gate and wait. The good brown man, who did everything that he was told, at once sat quietly down. O, how distressed they were to learn that they had come too late! Thomas cried like a child when he heard of Mary's death. The disciples washed his and Jonathan's feet, and gave them some refreshment. In the meantime the women had woken and got up, and when they had retired from the Blessed Virgin's room, Thomas and Jonathan were taken to the place where the Blessed Virgin had died. They threw themselves to the ground and watered it with their tears. Thomas knelt long in prayer at Mary's little altar. His grief was inexpressibly moving; it makes me cry even now when I think of it. When the Apostles had finished their prayers (which they had not interrupted), they all went to welcome the new arrivals. They took Thomas and Jonathan by the arms, lifted them from their knees, embraced them, and led them into the front part of the house, where they gave them honey and little loaves of bread to eat. They drank from little jugs and goblets. They prayed together once more, and all embraced each other.

But now Thomas and Jonathan begged to be shown the tomb [198] of the Blessed Virgin, so the Apostles kindled lights fastened to staves, and they all went out along Mary's Way of the Cross to her tomb. They spoke little, stopping for a short time at the stones of the Stations, and meditating on the Via Dolorosa of Our Lord and the compassionate love of His Mother, who had placed these stones of remembrance here and had so often wetted them with her tears. When they came to the rock-tomb, they all threw themselves on their knees. Thomas and Jonathan hurried towards the tomb, followed by John. Two disciples held back the bushes from the entrance, and they went in and knelt in reverent awe before the resting-place of the Blessed Virgin. John then drew near to the light wicker coffin, which projected a little beyond the ledge of rock, undid the three gray bands which were round it and laid them aside. When the light of the torches shone into the coffin, they saw with awe and amazement the grave-clothes lying before them still wrapped round as before, but empty. About the face and breast they were undone; the wrappings of the arms lay slightly loosened, but not unwound. The transfigured body of Mary was no longer on earth. They gazed up in astonishment, raising their arms, as though the holy body had only then vanished from among them; and John called to those outside the cave: Come, see, and wonder, she is no longer here.' All came two by two into the narrow cave, and saw with amazement the empty grave-clothes lying before them. They looked up to heaven with uplifted arms, weeping and praying, praising the Lord and His beloved transfigured Mother (their true dear Mother, too) like devoted children, uttering every kind of loving endearment as the spirit moved them. They must have remembered in their thoughts that cloud of light which they had seen from afar on their way home immediately after the burial, how it had sunk down upon the tomb and then soared upwards again. John took the Blessed Virgin's grave-clothes with great reverence out of the wicker coffin, folded and wrapped them carefully together, and took them away, after closing the lid of the coffin and fastening it again with the bands. Then they left the tomb, closing the entrance again with the bushes. They returned to the house by the Way of the Cross, praying and singing hymns. On their return they all went into the Blessed Virgin's room. John laid the grave-clothes reverently on the little table before the place where the Blessed Virgin used to pray. Thomas and the others prayed again at the place where she died. Peter went apart as if in spiritual meditation; perhaps he was making his preparation, for afterwards I saw the altar being set up before the Blessed Virgin's place of prayer where her cross stood, and I saw Peter holding a solemn service there, the others standing behind him in rows and praying and singing alternately. The holy women stood farther back by the doors, behind the hearth.

Thomas' simple-minded servant had followed him from the distant land which he had last visited. His appearance was very strange. He had small eyes, a flat forehead and nose, and high cheek-bones. His skin was of a browner color than one sees here. He had been baptized; apart from that he was just like an ignorant, obedient child. He did everything that he was told--stood still where he was put, looked in the direction he was told to, and smiled at everybody. He remained seated in the place where Thomas had said he was to wait, and when he saw Thomas in tears, he wept bitterly, too. This man always stayed with Thomas; he was able to carry great weights, and I have seen him dragging up enormous stones when Thomas was building a chapel.

After the Blessed Virgin's death I saw the assembled Apostles and disciples often standing together in a group and telling each other where they had been and what had befallen them. I heard it all, and if it be God's will I shall recollect it.

[August 20 ^th, 1820 and 1821:] After performing various devotions most of the disciples have taken leave and returned to their duties. The Apostles are still at the house, with Jonathan, who came with Thomas, and also Thomas' servant; but they will all be leaving as soon as they have finished their work. They are working at freeing Mary's Way of the Cross from weeds and stones and are planting it with beautiful shrubs, herbs, and flowers. While working they pray and sing, and I cannot express how moving it is to see them: it is as if, in their love and sorrow, they were performing a solemn religious service, sad but beautiful. Like devoted children they adorn the footsteps of God's Mother and their Mother--those footsteps which followed, in compassionate devotion, her Divine Son's path of suffering to His redeeming death upon the Cross.

They entirely closed up the entrance into Mary's tomb by earthing up more firmly the bushes planted in front of it and strengthening the trench. They arranged and beautified the little garden before the tomb, and dug out a passage at the back of the hill leading to the back wall of the tomb, chiseling out an opening in the rock through which one could see the place where the Holy Mother's body had rested--that Mother whom the Redeemer, when dying on the Cross, had entrusted to John and thus, to them all and to His Church. O, they were true and faithful sons, obedient to the Fourth Commandment, and long will they and their love live upon the land! Above the tomb they made a kind of tent-chapel with carpets; it had wattle walls and roof. They built a little altar in it, with a stone step and a big flat stone supported on another stone. Against the wall behind this altar they hung a little carpet on which the picture of the Blessed Virgin had been woven or embroidered, very plainly and simply. It was in bright colors, showing her in festal attire, brown with blue and red stripes. When all was finished they held a service there, all praying on their knees with uplifted hands. They made Mary's room in the house into a church. Mary's maidservant and a few women continued to live in the house; and two of the disciples, one of whom came from the shepherds beyond the Jordan, were left here to provide for the spiritual comfort of the faithful living in the neighborhood.

Soon afterwards the Apostles separated to go their different ways. Bartholomew, Simon, Jude, Philip, and Matthew were the first to leave for the countries of their missions, after taking a moving farewell of the others. The others, except John, who stayed on for a while, went all together to Palestine before separating. There were many disciples there, and several women went with them from Ephesus to Jerusalem. Mary Mark did much for the Christians there; she had established a community of some twenty women who to a certain extent led a conventual life. Five of them lived in her own house, which was a regular meeting-place for the disciples. [199] The Christians still owned the church at the Pool of Bethsaida.

[On August 22 ^nd she said:] John is the only one left in the house. All the others have already gone. I saw John carrying out the Blessed Virgin's wishes and dividing her clothes between her maidservant and another girl who sometimes came to help her. Some of the stuffs given by the three holy kings were among them. I saw two long white robes and several long cloaks and veils, as well as coverings and carpets. I also saw quite clearly that striped over-dress which she wore at Cana and on the Way of the Cross--the one of which I possess a little strip. Some of these things became the property of the Church; for instance, the beautiful sky-blue wedding-dress, ornamented with gold thread and strewn with embroidered roses, was made into a vestment for the Holy Sacrifice for the Bethsaida church in Jerusalem. There are relics of it in Rome still. I see them, but do not know if they are recognized there. Mary wore it only for her wedding and never again.

All that I have described happened in stillness and quiet. There was secrecy but (unlike today) no fear. Persecution had not yet reached the stage of spies and informers, and there was nothing to disturb the serenity and peace.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Excorcism, the Church Militant and Our Lady of Lourdes Toronto.

In light of all the talk about the Pope and exorcists,I would like to republish my post of Sunday, 20 June 2010....

Exorcism, the Church Militant and Our lady of Lourdes Toronto

Pro-life leader Fr. Thomas Euteneuer has written a new book called "Exorcism and the church Militant". In a recent interview he discussed the book and the often misunderstood topic of exorcism, asserting that "due to an increased exposure of young people to the occult, priests within the next decade are going to be “inundated” with exorcism requests."

“One of the purposes of the book,” he noted, “was to take back the proper understanding of exorcism by placing it squarely in the context of the Church's pastoral ministry.”

In reading this I am taken back to my visit to Toronto in 2008. The Pope had announced that every Archdiocese throughout the world must have an official exorcist. It was a matter discussed on national TV. There were those for and against the issue, even within the church. Psychologists had their say. It was a big thing in Toronto.

In Trinidad, such an issue was under the radar. I don't know that it was ever discussed in any public forum.

What got me upset though, was that I went to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church for Mass one sunday morning with my family. To get to the nearest church we had to walk through "the village". The village is an area frequented by homosexuals. On that particular sunday  there was a street "fair". Sex clothes, toys and various apparatus and booths were laid out in public.  And Yes, that got me upset, but what really bothered me was the Priest at our lady of Lourdes.

The reading for that week was Matthew 15:21-28: Then Jesus answered her, 'Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.' And her daughter was healed instantly.

The Homily was about exorcism and even in all the talk about exorcism the priest spoke about exorcism as addictions... not spiritual. How can you direct someone to heaven, a spiritual place, and not guide people in
spiritual matters?  Especially when the bible clearly shows that  Jesus exorcised demons on several occasions.... and not just Jesus. Read the Acts of the apostles.

Fr. Euteneuer underscored Exorcism in Jesus' Ministry, “He healed the sick, He preached the Gospel and He cast out demons. He continues to do those works in and through the Church and that it what he handed on to the Church to do.”

Monday, 23 June 2014

Thank You Father Gerry Pantin

Not long ago I was at a gas station when I saw the calypsonian the mighty Chalkdust. Something in me said that I should thank this man for all that he has done for the country. Not his calypsoes,although they are pretty good. This calpsonian with all his many degrees, decided that he needed to serve the country by being a teacher and ensuring that he made a difference in some people's life.

I was watching the news this evening and I saw that Father Gerry Pantin had passed. What a loss to this nation. What a loss to the poor. What a loss to humanity. This makes me so sad. Father Gerry was the founder of Servol. Their website describes the founding of this NGO as follows:

In 1970, Trinidad and Tobago was experiencing some very difficult times. A number of people, mainly from the Laventille area, began a series of demonstrations to protect the social conditions of the poor. These marches, subsequently known as the "Black Power" demonstrations, continued and the numbers increased until a group of highly trained officers persuaded the Army to attempt to overthrow the Government by violent revolution.
Following this, Fr.Gerard Pantin, a Roman Catholic Priest/ teacher at St.Mary's College and Mr. Wesley Hall, a cricketer who was on a coaching assignment with the West Indian Tobacco Company, went into the Laventille area to find out how they could assist the people with the various problems they faced. They made contact with a number of street corner groups, had "rap sessions" with them and eventually overcame their initial suspicion and hostility. As a result, SERVOL (Service Volunteered for ALL),a voluntary organisation, was born.

After a period of about three (3) months, Wesley Hall returned to his Barbados and Fr. Pantin made a formal request to the Commander of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force to have some volunteers assigned to work with him in a developmental programme in Laventille.  This request was approved and so twelve (12) soldiers and sailors were assigned to work with SERVOL.  Without knowledge of the theory and practice of community development, they adopted the procedure of asking each group "How can we help you?" It is interesting to note that forty (40) years after, SERVOL workers still continue to ask this question of those who come to them for any form of assistance.

Having laid the groundwork, SERVOL's aim now was not simply to work for the under-privileged but to get the under-privileged to work for themselves, to get them out of the stagnation they were in and to help them formulate goals they could realize.

SERVOL was interested in the self-development of people. It was not a welfare organization nor did it see its explicit task as being the mass transformation of society or the alleviating of the many problems of the poor. Rather it saw itself as a small but important catalyst for social change which Caribbean society desperately needed. In working with people in all their many and various projects, SERVOL was also searching for new models for development, which were capable of being taken up by larger organizations and implemented on a large scale.
The Trinidad Guardian newspaper in 2010 carried a story of the Pantin family:

The Pantin family from Woodbrook answered the call to “serve the people, serve the people, serve all of the people” of T&T. Service has never been an alien concept to the prominent Pantins who made positive inroads on the socio-economic landscape. The late Anthony Pantin was archbishop of the diocese of Port-of-Spain. Former Fatima College principal, Clive Pantin became Minister of Education. Fr Gerard Pantin founded Service Volunteered For All (Servol).  Three doyennes among the Pantin clan epitomise the notion of service, volunteerism and humanitarianism. Ten siblings were born to late housewife Agnes and Julien Pantin, a managing director at the defunct Salvatori Scott Ltd. The union produced Gerard, Tony (late), Rose, Geoffrey (late), Clive, Monica, Ronald (late), Helen, Patricia and Michael. The Pantins’ matriarch Agnes was a “very religious woman” who took them to mass regularly at St Patrick’s RC Church, Maraval.  The family remained steeped in Roman Catholicism. Rosa answered the call to join the nunnery with the Sisters of Cluny at St Joseph’s Convent. Commenting on their calling, Clive Pantin said: “It was a gift from God.  We enjoyed every minute of it. That was important. If you go into a job and you have reservations about it, don’t do it. You are not going to succeed.” Indeed, the Pantin clan have been a blessing. 

Thank You Father Gerry, for all that you have done for this Nation, for it's people, for God. Rest in Peace!


Saturday, 7 June 2014

Hey you ! married couple.... Get a kid, not a pet.

Catholic News Agency - Pope Francis' message to married couples by Jennifer Manning

Pope Francis’ comments in his June 2 homily—the one in which he urged married couples to have children instead of pets—have stirred up controversy, which at this point, should strike no one as surprising. He is a Pope who challenges the “comfortable,” or, in this case, challenges the “culture of well-being.”

 In his homily, Pope Francis warned married couples that the “culture of well-being” tells them that it is better not to have children; he cautioned against the temptation to forsake having children for the lure of material goods. Lest anyone think that this is a non-issue, Time magazine ran a cover article in August 2013 about “The Childfree Life: Having it All without Having Children,” complete with a glamorous cover photo of a beautiful young couple sunbathing on a beach—alone, no kids, no sand toys or sand castles in sight.  At a time when birthrates are declining to record lows, this issue is a pertinent one.

We have become a society that does not value the life of children.  No, perhaps that is too harsh.  We value the life of children when we plan for children, when children fit into our blueprint for life. We see this issue of control perhaps most clearly in the tragedy of abortion (as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta lamented, “It is a poverty that a child must die so that you may live as you wish”) but the battle rages much more subtly, as well.  Yesterday a friend shared a blog post titled “To the lady ashamed of being pregnant with her fourth.”
In this post the author describes her encounter with a pregnant woman in an elevator, who, after sharing that she was pregnant with her fourth child, was relieved when her elevator companion congratulated her instead of expressing her condolences.   She also shared how often people had asked her if this baby was “planned.”

My husband and I are expecting our first child, and one of the most surprising elements of my pregnancy so far has been the number of people who have, point-blank, asked me if this baby was “planned.”  The first few times it happened, I was floored, and truly did not know how to respond to such a question.  Since reading the above blog post yesterday, I’ve decided I will borrow the author’s answer to this discourteous question, “Yes, God planned for this child from time immemorial, and I will do my best with this life that is entrusted to me.”  Because isn’t that what Christ does when He blesses us with a child—He entrusts the life of this precious little one to us?

And what is so wrong with an unplanned pregnancy, anyway?  Many of the great figures of Judaism and Christianity were “unplanned” pregnancies. Isaac, son of Abraham and Sarah, Samuel, son of Elkanah and Hannah, John the Baptist, son of Elizabeth and Zechariah—all were “unplanned.” The birth of Christ himself was “unplanned.”  Imagine how differently the story of the Visitation would read if Elizabeth had greeted Mary with, “My dear cousin! Was this pregnancy planned?”  Instead of “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42).  Yet our society does not always greet pregnancy with such joy.

The Catholic Church goes so far as to teach that one of the purposes of marriage is to have and to raise children. Ever been to a Catholic wedding?  Try counting the many references to “being fruitful” and to children. The theology of it all is downright beautiful.  Just as Christ’s love bears fruit in the Church through the Sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, and Holy Orders—as Pope Francis reminded us in his homily—so too should the love of a married couple bear fruit. 

Sometimes, tragically, a couple is unable to bear children, and in this case the fruitfulness of the couple is expressed in other ways.  And the Church isn’t saying to have as many children as is humanly possible. But to deliberately thwart the fruitfulness that is part of the essence of marriage is an affront to the sacrament itself.

When we deliberately deprive sex of one of its purposes—namely, to create life—we utter a resounding “no” to God.  We have been made to love, and our love is made to bear fruit.  When we remove the procreative element from sex, we take away the mutual responsibility and privilege that a couple shares with each other and with God.

But we don’t care anymore.  We don’t want what we can’t control. We don’t want to let go and let God, we want to let go and let the Pill. We choose the path of comfort and control—why?

Flannery O’Connor once wrote, “They think that faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it’s the
cross.”  That, in a nutshell, is what is going on in our world today.  We don’t want the cross anymore. We reject the cross. We want the comfort of faith, we want to know that Christ loves us and forgives us no matter what—and he does.  But Christ calls us to take up our crosses and follow him.  Just a few weeks ago Christ reminded us in the Gospel of John, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Ever thought about the very first commandment listed in the Bible?  Its Genesis 1:28—Be fruitful and multiply.