Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Pushkin and Her Royal Highness

Here is a chapter from Pushkin's memoirs - his version of meeting HRH Princess Michael of Kent.

‘I think there must be a world out there,’ mused Pushkin, placing a claw thoughtfully on the side of his nose, ‘that is bursting with curiosity to get into the Oratory and find out what my world is really like.’

One Sunday morning our house was invaded by the police; they even brought sniffer DOGS with them. My Human told me that it was all because a real live Princess was going to visit us – Princess Michael of Kent.

Being of aristo-catic blood myself, I was determined to meet her, only to find that my Human had shut me in my room. I suppose he thought I would have frightened the sniffer dogs too much. So, I devised a plan. I decided upon a strategy to allow enough time for me to slip out of my room when he came to check on me. As I jumped on the chest of drawers, I knocked over two pieces of fine porcelain which, luckily for him, were unbroken as they fell on the bed.

Everyone knows that cats are far too discerning to break valuable china. ‘You naughty pussy,’ he said, as he began to put the plates back on their stands. That gave me the chance I was looking for.

I was out of the door like a bolt of lightning and galloped determinedly down the corridor, with my Human in hot pursuit. ‘Don’t worry,’ beamed a friendly looking bodyguard, ‘the Princess adores cats and she would love to see him.’ When I heard these words my confidence grew to immense proportions. I fluffed out my mane to look its magnificent best and waved my tail proudly in the air as I mounted the library steps.

I could hear the hum of human voices. ‘Did Cardinal Newman manage to read all of these books?’ chimed a lady’s voice with a German accent. ‘I wouldn’t be at all surprised,’ said Father Paul. There stood the Princess, wearing clothes very like mine, and she was wearing diamonds. I always wear collars with diamonds myself and it was marvellous to meet a kindred spirit with such similar taste.

I made a dramatic entrance into the library. I ran in a big arc and let out some tuneful yowls. ‘He is so beautiful!’ she gasped with delight. ‘Let me hold him.’ She glanced towards the camera men. ‘Photographs, photographs!’ she commanded, and the photographers were happy to oblige.

From that moment, all talk of Cardinal Newman ceased and the conversation turned naturally to the subject of cats. I was delighted to hear that the Princess had recently opened Battersea Cats’ Home, so that my less fortunate relatives would have a roof over their heads.

Since then, Princess Marie Christine and I have become firm friends. I believe she always talks about me when the occasion arises, and we send each other Christmas cards. I always sign my name in my best paw writing and my Human addresses the envelope. This encounter was enough to ensure my place in history, but other honours were to come, to my delight and amazement as you will see.

If you want to read more tails of Pushkin, you will have to buy his book Pushkin the Pontifical Puss: Tails of an Oratory Cat.

Text and illustrations © ST PAULS.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A purr-fect evening in honour of Pushkin

As promised, a more detailed report on Pushkin and the Princess...

The Birmingham Oratory hosted a purr-fect celebration to mark the publication of Pushkin’s memoirs, Pushkin the Pontifical Puss: ‘Tails’ of an Oratory Cat.

In the presence of HRH Princess Michael of Kent, Fr Anton Guziel (P.A. to Pushkin and Parish Priest of Birmingham Oratory) welcomed over 120 people who had gathered to congratulate Pushkin on his literary achievement.

Entertainment was provided by children from the Oratory School as they sang, 'Oh, I want to sing about Pushkin' and 'Pontifical Puss' - two songs composed for the evening. Members of St Paul’s Girls’ School performed Duet for Two Cats by Rossini.

Fr Anton and Peter Raven (the young boy featured in the book, to whom Pushkin recounts his memoirs) read an extract from the book before presenting Princess Michael with the official launch copy.

In accepting the book, Her Royal Highness spoke of how important cats are to humans. She told us that one of hers had recently gone to Cat Heaven, having been with her for 19 years, and would no longer be able to send Pushkin a Christmas card.

The book recounts Pushkin’s early life in Birmingham, time spent in Fenton, his return to Birmingham where he encounters HRH Princess Michael of Kent (in Pushkin’s own words, She-who-wears-diamonds) and Pope Benedict (He-who-wears-white). It reveals how, during the latter encounter, Pushkin outwitted security guards to be with the Holy Father, who made him 'Grand Arch-Cat of all the Oratories and Cardinal Puss in Pectore'.

As with the honour bestowed upon him by the Holy Father, Pushkin took the evening at the Oratory in his stride. He made several appearances, at one point resting very contentedly on the lap of Her Royal Highness.

In his speech, Stephen Moseling, Publishing Director of St Pauls Publishing, explained how the famous saying of the acting fraternity 'Never work with children or animals' does not apply to the world of publishing. He said, "Until now we had several bishops, a couple of cardinals and a pope, but to be able to boast of having the ‘Grand Arch-Cat of all the Oratories’ is indeed a great honour for St Pauls."

Amongst those thanked at the launch were the Sisters of the Carmel of the Magnifi-cat, Wolverhampton who provided the illustrations for the book.

As a sign of his benevolence and dedication to his responsibilty as ‘Grand Arch-Cat of all the Oratories’, Pushkin has kindly decreed that he will not be keeping any of the money raised from the sale of his book (not even to buy diamonds). Royalties will go towards the maintenance and upkeep of the Oratory church.

Before she left, Her Royal Highness kindly consented to having her photograph taken with representatives of St Pauls.

Photos courtesy of Philippe Lefebvre.
Illustrations © ST PAULS.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Initial report on the launch of Pushkin the Pontifical Puss

Birmingham Oratory this evening hosted the launch of the book Pushkin the Pontifical Puss: Tails of an Oratory Cat.The guest of honour was Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent, pictured here holding Pushkin, watched over by his Personal Assistant, Fr Anton Guziel.

Reports of the evening are already being featured on blogs, such as Saint Conleth's, the writer of which was at the launch, and from whose blog the above picture was taken.

The centrepiece of the refreshment table was a cake donated by the Oratory School.

A more detailed report of the evening, including many more pictures, will be posted later this week.

Prayer for the Queen

The Bishops’ Conference requests that on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Sunday 3 June 2012, each parish will celebrate a Mass with prayers to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. During this Mass, the first reading is replaced by 1 Kings 3:11–14 and the Prayer for the Queen, which has been approved by the Bishops, is used after the Post Communion Prayer and before the Final Blessing.

Prayer for the Queen

V. O Lord, save Elizabeth, our Queen.
R. And hear us on the day we call upon you.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come before you.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.

Almighty God, we pray,
that your servant Elizabeth, our Queen,
who, by your providence has received the governance of this realm,
may continue to grow in every virtue,
that, imbued with your heavenly grace,
she may be preserved from all that is harmful and evil
and, being blessed with your favour
may, with her consort and the royal family,
come at last into your presence,
through Christ who is the way, the truth and the life
and who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God,
for ever and ever.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Pushkin's memoirs have arrived

After months of preparation, Pushkin is delighted to announce that his memoirs are now available to his devoted fans.

His book, Pushkin the Pontifical Puss has arrived from the printer and all is in place for the official launch of the book at the Birmingham Oratory on Monday. One of his greatest friends "She who wears diamonds" (HRH Princess Michael of Kent) is to be the guest of honour at the celebration.

For those who wish to see me with my greatest admirer, as we appear on the back cover of my book...

As they say, watch this space for further details.

The Tablet NOTEBOOK page report on the book

Picture of me with Princess Michael thanks to Peter Jennings.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Your Sunday Missal

The first of the Sunday Missals containing the revised texts have arrived in our bookshops.

Your Sunday Missal, published by Redemptorist Publications, is a beautifully produced book for use at Sunday Masses throughout the three-year cycle. It also contains the ordinary of the Mass in Latin and a selection of prayers, including the Stations of the Cross, by St Alphonsus, the founder of the Redemptorists.

The Redemptorists produce many resources to assist priests and people in their preparation and celebration of the Mass. Your Sunday Missal is, by far, their greatest contribution to these and we congratulate them on the quality of production.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

An accolade for our Bookshop in York

The Yorker, a student-run website which provides news, features, comment and reviews on everything that is going on in York, has complimented us on our bookshop.

It goes on to say:

"It’s all cards and gifts on the ground floor, but take a trip downstairs and you’ll find yourself amongst a huge collection of books on Christianity; spanning from doorstop books on apologetics and liturgy to application bible studies. As ever in a Christian bookshop a person can take their pick from a huge number of bibles. My favourite has to be the copy of the four gospels for £1.50, which was about the size of an ipod shuffle. This shop is very all-inclusive, spanning writings on Catholic traditions as well as those from the most evangelical of free churches."

Saturday, 12 November 2011


This Saturday (19th November) sees the annual Towards Advent festival in Westminster Cathedral hall. This is a gathering together of a wide range of Catholic groups and organisations to celebrate the Catholic Faith.

Door open at 10.00 and the festival will be opened at 10.30 by Archbishop Vincent Nichols. At 1.30 Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, will deliver a talk on 'Joy and Hope in the Church'. At 3.00 there is to be a celebration of Blessed John Paul II in film, drama and music. This includes the documentary film "John Paul the Great" and contributions from the Oxford-based youth drama team who presented the play "The Quality of Mercy". Entrance to these two events will cost £2, but entrance to the festival itself is free.

ST PAULS do not exhibit at the festival as our shop in just around the corner from the Cathedral hall, but do make time to visit our bookshop and see the variety of resources we have for Advent and Christmas.

Towards Advent is sponsored by The Catenian Association, The Knights of St Columba, and The Association of Catholic Women.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Jimmy Savile, OBE

The funeral took place today in Leeds Cathedral of Jimmy Savile, OBE. Obituaries have highlighted the inestimable good works he contributed to throughout his life. They have also referred to the many different opinions people have of him as a a person, each perhaps being a reflection of whether the writer had actually met him, or a reflection of the media image of the man. Reading them one gets the impression that people either loved him or hated him, perhaps unfairly based upon his gregarious personality. Some have criticised the show biz glamour surrounding the last few days since his death, in particular, the coffin containing his mortal remains being on public show in a Leeds hotel.

Yet, Jimmy Savile was a Catholic Christian and a showman, in that order. He may be remebered as an eccentric, but one priest who knew him very well has testified to the fact that his public persona was a creation of his own making in order that he could care for the sick, the lonely, the prisoner etc as Christ commanded us.

As the Rt Revd Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds, who preside at his funeral today in Leeds Cathedral said:

"Today Jimmy lies at the front of the cathedral where in former years he has remained discreetly hidden at the back in order not to disturb people's prayers or distract their attention from what was taking place at the altar."

May he rest in peace.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Catholicism in Uxbridge

ST PAULS Publishing has just released their latest book Catholicism in Uxbridge: A Brief History.

Written by Fr Nicholas Schofield, the parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Michael, it is a fitting tribute to all who have worked, and those who continue to work, to build up the Kingdom of God in Uxbridge. Publication of the book coincides with the 80th anniversary of the opening of the present church.

"Every parish has a story and often there can be surprising twists and turns. The history of Catholicism in Uxbridge, on the western edge of Greater London, embraces medieval confraternities, burnings under Mary Tudor, Elizabethan Jesuits (including St Edmund Campion) and even a link with Shakespeare. In more recent times, there is the no less heroic story of the foundation of a Catholic parish and the tireless work of generations of priests and lay people." From the cover of the book.

Fr Schofield is also Archivist of the Archdiocese of Westminster and the author of several books. He has a regular column on church history in The Catholic Times.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Pushkin the Pontifical Puss

When Pope Benedict XVI visited the United Kingdom in 2010 many historic and significant events took place. The head of the Catholic Church was personally welcomed to the United Kingdom by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Thousands of young people gathered with Pope Benedict in Hyde Park, London to celebrate an all-night vigil of prayer, including Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. For the first time in history on English soil, the Holy Father declared an Englishman Beatus (Blessed) - John Henry Cardinal Newman. However, for one resident of Birmingham these events were nothing compared with the honour he bestowed on the Holy Father.

In the Oratory in Birmingham, the former home of Blessed John Henry Newman, lives Pushkin, the Oratory Cat. But Pushkin is no ordinary cat. He is one of many felines who have played an important part in momentous events in history, not only in England, but worldwide.

The latest book from ST PAULS Publishing, Pushkin: The Pontifical Puss, gives an insight into the life of this extraordinary cat. It details his early life, time spent in Fenton and his encounter with HRH Princess Michael of Kent (in Pushkin’s own words, She-who-wears-diamonds) and Pope Benedict (He-who-wears-white).

With the assistance of his Human (Fr Anton Guziel), his secretary (Carol Parkinson) and illustrations supplied by the Carmelite nuns of the Carmel of the Magnifi-cat, Wolverhampton, Pushkin is delighted to make available his autobiography.

The book contains a Foreword by HRH Princess Michael of Kent and will be published on 21st November.

Picture © L’Osservatore Romano Photographic Service