Dear Bishops

Dear Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales,

Some of us* got a little soggy yesterday in Birmingham, and being called a Nazi wasn’t much fun, but it was a very light and easy cross to bear in the grand scheme of things, and we did it out  of love and witness, and it was on the whole a joyful occasion. So when I read your ‘Letter to Catholics…’ on the upcoming election this morning, you’ll have to forgive me for finding it a wee bit pathetic.

Did you mention 50 years of abortion? Did you mention the unborn at all?  Did you even mention conscientious objection?  Or, as per usual, did you take the easy ride?

I’m not known for my advocacy of women’s ordination, but I’ll tell you something, dear Bishops’ Conference: the speakers at yesterday’s March for Life – all women as it happens – had more masculinity in their little fingers than you seem to be able to summon up in your whole conference. It reminds me of a story – you may have heard it – about a certain band of apostles abandoning their Master right when He needed them most, leaving the dangerous work to the women.

I’m not saying that Life From Conception, No Exception has to be The Number One Issue for Catholics in the upcoming General Election, but, you know, couldn’t it even just be a consideration? A footnote perhaps? A tiny scrawl in the margins? A hyperlink?

Oh, but we did mention it, I hear you say. That’s precisely what that paragraph on Issues on Family and Life was all about. Oh really? Let’s have a look:


In 2015 Parliament voted overwhelmingly to protect society’s most vulnerable people, by preventing the legalisation of assisted dying. Will your candidates uphold this decision? Will they support measures to promote the intrinsic value of life at every stage?

The family is at the heart of the health and well-being of society, above all the well-being of children. What policies do your candidates propose for the flourishing of family life?

Oh, well, that spells it out nice and simply. You’ve ticked that box. Good for you. That’ll keep the weird pro-lifers off your back. Pat on the back. Have a lollypop.

You know what gets me most about this? It’s not even the abortion issue – it’s integrity; it’s faith. I mean, how on earth is this letter any different from a secular virtue-signalling checklist? This is what I think: you don’t really, truly believe that God will judge you. In fact, in my view,


So that makes me wonder: why should we believe in God? If your words and actions don’t convey true faith in the true faith, then why on earth do you think we should believe any of it? Or to put it in language you might understand, why should we turn up to Mass on a Sunday morning and cough up our offertory donations? Hmm?

Dear Bishops’ Conference, MAKE A DECISION.


Lord have mercy on us,

Our Lady of Life, pray for us.

Holy Michael, defend us.


*including, one must gratefully acknowledge, some representatives from the Bishops’ Council: +McKinney, +Byrne, and +Heskett. Praise God.


Daily Prayer

A short piece for three voices inspired by Blessed John Henry Newman:

Click here for the sheet music; please let me know (via the About page) if you use it. And any feedback is much appreciated! Thanks.

The words are an adaptation of A Daily Prayer, a prayer by Blessed John Henry Newman.

Daily Prayer

May He support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging, and a holy rest and peace at the last.


Music (C) James Walton 2017

The Sacred Fight

Well my falsetto isn’t great, but it’s supposed to be for children’s voices. You get the idea…

Click here for the sheet music, but please let me know (via the About page) if you use it. Thanks.

Words taken from Sensitiveness, a poem by Blessed John Henry Newman.


Time was, I shrank from what was right,
From fear of what was wrong;
I would not brave the sacred fight,
Because the foe was strong.

But now I cast that finer sense
And sorer shame aside;
Such dread of sin was indolence,
Such aim at heaven was pride.

So, when my Saviour calls, I rise,
And calmly do my best;
Leaving to Him, with silent eyes
Of hope and fear, the rest.

I step, I mount where He has led;
Men count my haltings o’er;—
I know them; yet, though self I dread,
I love his precept more.

Music (C) James Walton 2017

If there’s any chance that God exists.

I am grateful for many things.

As a bare minimum, I am grateful for my existence. The chance of my existence seems extremely slim.

I am grateful for my children, for their wellbeing, for the fact that, right now, they are not in any sort of trouble, not ill, not struggling with their work too much, not desperate for attention, nor addicted to television. Sometimes when I contemplate the weight of gratitude I have for my children, I forget how to breathe.

I am grateful for my wife, a model of virtue, a delight to my my mind and my senses; God, I love that woman.

I am grateful for many things. But what can I do with this gratitude? At least three things.

  1. Honour my ancestors.
  2. Honour my descendents.
  3. Honour the Creator.

I used to struggle with the existence of God. I don’t anymore. Many of the people who were supposed to be responsible for my religious education and spiritual nourishment didn’t seem to take it very seriously, but that’s another story. Thankfully, things change. And besides…

If there’s any chance, any whatsoever, any small, minuscule smidgeon of a possibility that a Creator exists, then justice, and at least good manners, dictates that my gratitude belongs to Him. I must give God due worship. I mean, what’s lost in a quick prayer before meals and a trip to church once a week? What am I going to do instead? Oh, well, you know, just in case God doesn’t exist, I’m going to make the most of my extra hour a week by watching Netflix and playing online chess. Come on. Really. What if He does exist? Seriously? What if?

My suggestion, in case you’re still reading: Whatever else you think about God, as a bare minimum, offer Him your gratitude. Say a prayer. Say thank you. Drive your Grandma to church. She’ll like the company.

Erbarme dich, mein Gott

Erbarme dich, mein Gott,
um meiner Zähren willen!
Schaue hier, Herz und Auge
weint vor dir bitterlich.
Erbarme dich, mein Gott.

Have mercy, my God,
For the sake of my tears!
See here, heart and eye
Weep bitterly before you.
Have mercy, my God.