Can You Be Fabulous?

A Catholic Army Wife Goes Paleo By Erica McCullagh Does the word “cook” arouse fear in your soul? Truth be told, there was a time in my life when that’s how I felt. Although my mother made delicious meals and baked scrumptious desserts, I wasn’t much interested in cooking as a child. But once out … Read more

The Cardinal’s School Today











The Oratory School motto of “Cor ad cor loquitur” (heart speaking to heart) is John Henry Newman’s own, taken from his Cardinal’s Coat of Arms.

“I could add my own motto of ‘a busy boy is a happy boy’!” says the present Headmaster, Clive Dytor MA(Cantab) and MA(Oxon). “Boys need a particular approach to help them achieve their academic potential within their overall personal growth. Girls outperform boys on many levels and a school dedicated to boys-only can concentrate on boys’ strengths – and weaknesses!”

The Oratory School came into being on 1st May 1859. It was founded by Blessed John Henry Newman, at the request of a group of eminent Catholic laymen of the time, in order to provide a boarding school for boys run on English public school principles for the small English Catholic community. Newman was closely involved with the school during its first thirty years, and it remained attached to the house of the Oratory Fathers in Birmingham until 1922, when it moved to what is now the BBC Monitoring Station at Caversham Park, Reading. The Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory handed over control of the School to a Governing Body in 1931, but links with the London and Oxford Oratories, as well as with the one at Birmingham, remain strong. To escape Nazi bombing of city centers during World War II, the School moved in 1942, to settle finally on its present site at Woodcote, South Oxfordshire, some 40 miles west of London.

“We embody and practise today our Founder’s spiritual, moral and educational principles, which are just as relevant at the beginning of the twenty-first century as they were when he imbued his School with them. Each individual is to be valued for his own sake; the system should be there to support the needs of the individual, not vice versa. In this way a person’s dignity and sense of self-worth are respected in the way that they should be; as a result they will be more at ease in the society in which they find themselves and more willing to accept the necessary constraints of that society. Furthermore if each individual is regarded as special, then his special needs and gifts will be given proper respect and attention.

“The pastoral welfare of the boys in the School, the relationships with their families, the continuing contact with past pupils – all these, therefore, are central to the ethos of Newman’s educational vision.”


A Homeschooler’s Guide to Inspiring England

“Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived.” It’s the Fourth of July in America, a fitting time to reflect on all things British, the country where the foundation of democracy was laid. We enjoy the freedom to homeschool here, derived from the ancient freedoms won in England.  I have the great privilege of knowing some fine … Read more

Bucking the System

Sunday Roast

If one day you are invited to ‘Sunday Lunch’ in England, say a grateful prayer and accept with pleasure. Whether in a gastro-pub or an Englishman’s castle, these people know what they are doing. You are in for a treat– classically delicious seasonal roasted meat, complemented by local vegetables. And though your hosts may not know it, they are continuing a centuries-old Catholic tradition. For, from the time when the earliest Christians came to England in 159 AD,* we have come together over a table blessing after Sunday Mass. sunday roast1

How deeply ingrained the Old Faith is in the English culture can be found in both its calendar and table culture.  For example, English schools traditionally begin with the Michaelmas (pronounced MICKel-mus) term, on or near the September 29 feast of St. Michael the Archangel.

St. Michael is usually depicted in art carrying a sword and/or shield, battling Lucifer. Christian tradition holds that Michael (whose name in Hebrew translates, “Who is like God?”) was the leader of the angelic army that threw Satan out of Heaven after a considerable row.  He is the patron of knights, policemen, soldiers, paramedics, ambulance drivers — and also danger at sea, for the sick, and of a holy death.

Sunday Roast2

The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds,
Bloom for St Michael’s valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.
(October 28)


She Loves Me:’ At this time of year, the Aster (Aster nova-belgii) blooms, known as the Michaelmas Daisy – famous as a portent for lovers.  English-speakers the world over are familiar with seasonal custom of pulling these daisy petals, reciting “S/he loves me,” and “S/he loves me not,” until all the petals are gone. (The words one intones while pulling off the last petal lets one know if one’s love is requited.)

Michaelmas was when geese were brought to market to be sold from farms into towns, so roast goose dinners are traditional.  It was also the time when the fishing season ended, the hunting season began, and apples were harvested.


Roast Goose with Apples (serves 8)

1 13-lb. goose, giblets and neck discarded (you’ll need 1 lb per person)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 golden delicious apples, peeled, each cut into 6 wedges
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup Calvados (apple brandy)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Rinse goose inside and out; pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper. Using knife, cut small slits all over goose; place garlic slices into slits. Place goose on rack, breast side down, in large roasting pan. Roast goose 2 hours 45 minutes, basting occasionally with drippings and removing excess fat; reserve 6 tablespoons fat. Turn goose over. Roast until brown and thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, basting occasionally with drippings, about 45 minutes longer. Meanwhile, toss apples and lemon juice in large bowl. Pour 6 tablespoons goose fat into 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Using slotted spoon, transfer apples to baking dish; toss apples in goose fat. Add sugar, Calvados and cinnamon to apples; toss. Bake apples alongside goose until very tender and golden, about 1 hour. Serve goose with caramelized apples and a Bordeaux wine.

Sunday Roast 3* According to the Venerable Bede, during the reign of Roman emperor Marcus Antoninus, a British king named Lucius wrote Pope Eleutherus in Rome requesting instruction in the Christian faith.

CHRIST IN THE KITCHEN: English Catholics in the Middle Ages would cross-section an apple to show their children how the 5 seeds inside the 5-pointed star found inside represented the Five Wounds of Christ.


Sunday Roast 4


A Catholic Grace: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Bless us, oh Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen.”


TALES FROM THE JOURNEY HOME Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy Gets Girl — Both become Catholic and have a family!

It was my senior year of public high school, in Cullman, AL, 1991. I remember clearly, walking the school sidewalk, on a sunny, warm afternoon, towards my favorite class of the day. Always a grand time, our Art teacher, allowed us to work at our own pace, socialize, and often joined in our discussions. This … Read more