Thursday, 25 November 2010

Advent Approaches: And I Can't Wait!

Probably like you, dear reader, I despise the commercialisation of Christmas which seems to start with gusto as soon as Fireworks Night is out of the way.

And yet, such is my feeling of joy as Christmas approaches, that I can't resist feeling a sense of excitement in the air as we near December.

Personally I don't care much for presents and all that side of it (being officially as tight as a duck's hind-quarters, like my father before me), besides which as I have crossed the Rubicon and am now in my 40s, just how many pairs of socks, underpants, after shave etc. do I need?

No, I am fully caught up in the spiritual side of Christmas and I am nothing if sentimental about the whole thing.

The cold, dark evenings remind me of when, as a child, I would look up at the stars and imagine the infant Jesus in that stable so many miles away, so many years ago also under the star-lit sky. The shepherds, the angels, then the kings from the east and so on.

That to me was and is the essence of Christmas. It is a simple vision of Christmas, one held by a child, yet it has always stayed with me.

I love the simple things about Christmas, the sense of impending happiness and joy, the carols, the liturgy of Advent, the feast of Christmas itself.

I don't want to sound like an ascetic as I love a nice beer and pork pie as much as the next middle aged man (especially when scoffed - with half a carrot - on Christmas Eve with the crumb-laden remnants left as the evidence of Santa and Rudolf's visit), but for me Christmas is all about the joy of the Nativity and that special feeling, that uplifting of the soul, that "magic" of Christmas, well I don't think it will ever leave me.

So, as much as I loathe the commercialism of Christmas to the degree that it is today a spend-fest, I cannot help but begin to be excited at the prospect of Advent and the countdown to Christmas that this heralds.

I think my all time favourite Christmas carol is Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Primarily because it was my favourite as a child and I have vivid memories of trying to reach those high notes in school assembly or standing carol singing on doorsteps in the neighbourhood, but also because it evokes that time when the Hosts of Heaven appeared to those simple workingmen on the hillside of Bethlehem to announce the birth of Our Lord and mankind's Saviour. It also reminds me of the "newborn King" - i.e. that He was and is Christ the King, to Whom all nations and societies should be subject.

So I am sorry (well, not that sorry!) if I offended anyone with my eagerness to embrace Advent and Christmas, but that is who I am.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Fr. Kelly of Dunvant: A Holy Catholic Priest

Fr Kelly of Dunvant Parish
Many thanks to all the parishioners, my local Parish Priest, friends, family and blog-readers who prayed, said the Rosary and had Masses said for the time I was in hospital. There are too many people to name, but you are all in my prayers also and I will be eternally grateful to you all for your invaluable help and support in every way.

Just to know that Masses, Rosaries and prayers were going up from across Wales, Ireland, England and elsewhere meant so much. I know it sounds emotive to any casual blog reader, but when in pain and at your lowest ebb these things can make all the difference and provide the support needed to get you through pain to see the better day that follows.

There is also a special mention to a very special soul who this trying time brought me into contact with: Swansea, Dunvant-based priest Fr. Kelly, who's vocation is to visit the patients of Singleton Hospital.

On my first night in the hospital, circa 10.30pm  I was sitting pondering the operation the next day when a white-haired head popped around the door and called "Goodnight God Bless." I called after the figure and so received Communion that night. Had I not had Confession a few days before I am sure Fr Kelly would have been happy to hear that too.

Indeed this kindly and charitable soul came to me on every day and it meant that almost every day I could receive Holy Communion (one day I could not because despite visiting twice that day, Fr Kelly either found me in too much pain or asleep).

Indeed last Monday when visiting, Fr Kelly bumped into me in the corridor in some considerable pain and still offered to help me, such was his concern.

I really have nothing but praise for this wonderful man of God whose calling enables him to give so much hope, joy and comfort to those in pain, worrying, recovering, alone etc. To see his smiling face, hear him blessing the patients and staff, as they in turn would call "goodnight Father" after the silver haired priest all in black, it is one of most endearing memories of my stay in hospital and always brings a smile to my face.

A fellow patient told me that Fr Kelly had been there for his own mother when she was in the hospital some decades before. She had said to the visiting priest when asked 'are you Catholic?': "I used to be." The priest replied that 'once a Catholic always a Catholic' and sat with her to offer help and so on.

It reminds one of how the Catholic Priesthood can still mean a great deal, can bring so much succour to souls in need, is still (despite media assaults and rare scandals) a truly Holy Calling.

Even now when I get pains or am weary as I recover, the smiling face and truly charitable nature of the kindly Fr Kelly truly lifts my soul. If ever a man was sent by Our Lord and Our Lady to help those who need it I think Fr Kelly is that man.

Our diocese, our country and our Faith is very lucky to have such a priest.

Thank you and God Bless you Fr Kelly of Dunvant Parish. You and your vocation will always be in my prayers.

Diocese History of Fr Kelly on his 60th Anniversary of the Priesthood (Read his fascinating story of being a Seminarian in wartime France, being ordained in post-war Palestine and more).

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Your Prayers Gratefully Received

I hope you will indulge me with a very personal post.

May I thank all the kind friends, family and parishioners who have given me all their best wishes, kept me in the prayers and much more. I take great comfort in all these prayers and Masses being said for my intention.

I am going into hospital tomorrow and hope to be out 7-10 days from then providing there are no complications.

It is quite major surgery but the doctors tell me it is a relatively "easy" one too.

I am sure Our Lord and Our Lady will give me the strength I need. The operation is on the birthday of our beloved departed former Parish Priest, Fr Charles Higham SJ, so I am sure that has a meaning known in heaven.

Please remember me in your prayers in these coming days, and I hope to be posting on this blog again very soon.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Will of God

I believe that the true welfare of man consists in fulfilling the will of God.

Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Bonfire Night - 400 Years of Anti-Catholic State Propaganda

Remember, remember

the fifth of November,

Gunpowder, treason and plot. 

I see no reason

Why gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot... 


 We Catholics should remember that 'Bonfire Night' is a propaganda piece central to hundreds of years of repression of Catholicism and the Truth.


I believe that the "power of nightmares" scenario spoon fed to people today is a mere shadow of the fear and hatred whipped up by Cecil and the rest of Elizabeth I's entourage, followed up by Cecil Jr and James I.


Remember that Elizabeth was made Queen of England, promising to be a Catholic, only to ask the priest at the Mass afterwards not to elevate the host: thus showing the Catholics of England and Wales which way the wind would blow.


The majority - no, the vast majority, of her subjects were Catholic, yet she chose to split the country apart and separate us from most of Europe to follow her absurd Protestant hatreds. 


After years of martyrdom, penalty and penury the Catholics of England and Wales hoped for better times under James I (the son of Mary, Queen of Scots the Catholic victim of Elizabeth's regicide which shocked all of Europe), only to have their hopes dashed.


Despite all her efforts and all the blood and terror, Elizabeth had not broken the Catholics, many of whom continued to bravely and secretly follow their Faith.


Many people now believe that that the whole 'Catholic Conspiracy' was egged on by Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury and James I's spymaster, the son of the accursed William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, Elizabeth I's spymaster. 


Certainly the Gunpowder Plot gave Cecil and his ilk everything they needed to paint all Catholics as traitors, terrorists and worse.


Little matter that many had been painted into a corner by the policy of the Cecils and their heretic paymasters which had taken martyrdom, suffering and horrifying fines to every corner of England and Wales.


So it is that 400 years later so many people still play out this little piece of anti-Catholic propaganda as orchestrated for so long. Gladly few now realise that it was a part of a State plan to keep a population violently opposed to what their own forefathers had thought perfectly normal.


It is sad to think that our rulers used such incredible and underhand lengths to keep our peoples separated from the Sacraments, but that is the truth of the matter.