Thursday, 31 March 2011

Every Assault on the Church Gives the Opportunity to Fight Back and Win Souls

I was chatting to a fellow parishioner on Sunday, over tea and biscuits (we're very civilised in this part of Wales - must be the Roman influence), and amongst the plethora of topics we skimmed across was corruption in the Church. He mentioned that the alleged selling of Catholic knighthoods had been in the paper that very day.

As I said to him, the issue of corruption - and much else besides - should not be swept under the carpet (we've surely learnt the lesson of the paedophile scandal which occurred mostly under the watch of John Paul II), but the sad thing is that the media use the bad actions of a few men to try to bring about the collapse of a God-made institution; whereas men of good will (I hesitate to include myself) would like to see the corruption and scandals removed and (to use the parlance of Minder's Arthur Daley) 'sorted,' for the good of both the Church and Catholics as a whole. The former group act out of malice and hatred of the Catholic Church, the latter out of charity and love of the Catholic Church.


FR J HARDON SJ

In his book Always With Us, about the Real Presence and the Sacramental Nature of Our Lord in the Sacred Species, Fr J. Hardon SJ says that the Church historically always, even from its first days, accepted the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, i.e. that Transubstantiation was a fact of life, and it was only later during various heresies through history that the Church clearly outlined the nature of the Blessed Sacrament, most especially at the Council of Trent, which was the start of the Counter Reformation - that Holy and blessed council of the Church which gave the 'ammunition' its 'troops in the field' needed to beat back the errors of the protestants in places as diverse as Italy, Hungary and Poland.

Holy Church cleaned out the stables, got to grips with abuses, and a purified, invigorated Catholicism burst forth in a Counter-Reformation which was based on sound Scripture and the Traditions of the Church going back to the earliest days of the Church. It was this Church Council that gave us the Tridentine Mass (now known as the 'Extraordinary Form'), and a fighting Faith that took Catholicism to all four corners of the world. It was this Faith, not new at all, but purified, codified and swept clean of errors, that produced so many Saints, so many converts, such a deep love of the Mass that many were martyred from Japan to Wales, from the Americas to Africa, to stand as witnesses for Catholic Truth.

That it took the shock, lies and half-truth of the protestant "reformation" to bring about the Council of Trent is something that Fr. Hardon places in the history of the Church, as heresies before it had brought such beautifully clear explanations to the Faithful on the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Might we hope that the abuses of recent years might eventually lead to a purified, invigorated Catholicism which we surely need to fight back the tidal wave of secularism, rationalism and atheism currently holding sway?

RADIO WALES

On Tuesday morning there was a report on the BBC's Radio Wales concerning corruption at the Wales Audit Office (WAO), the boss of which, Jeremy Coleman, was jailed last November after a paedophile scandal. There is another scandal erupting concerning the WAO and the misuse of funds. On the radio report the WAO was suggesting that this matter should not be passed over to the police and that we should 'move on' (in that Blairite way).

It leaves one feeling deeply uneasy. If a crime is committed, whether it be in the goldfish bowl of Welsh politics or in the invasion of Iraq, when should it ever be a case of "let's move on" or "let's draw a line under it?" If something looks like a crime, then it should be investigated thoroughly, so  that the guilty are punished and the innocent totally cleared. Anything else is wrong because it lets the guilty 'off the hook' and the innocent be convicted by rumour.

The paedophile scandal in the Catholic Church, primarily in the 60s, 70s and 80s, is a lesson in this. Just as with any abuse of power, any abuse of trust, there needs to be clarity and justice. With a thirst for justice and the return to stern rules for seminaries (e.g. on the absolute non-admittance to those with homosexual tendencies) the Church can at least come out of another period of trial and scandal strengthened, purified, and its stance against moral evils such as abortion, homosexuality and contraception, will in turn be strengthened.

During the protestant "reformation" many voices were raised against the Church and it was accused of all manner of abuses, corruption and hypocrisy. The Church did not surrender to the whims of the world, but came out with a strengthened Catholicism, whilst stamping down on genuine abuses.

Let us pray that in the shadow of so many abuses in today's Church (whether sexual, monetary or liturgical) that the Holy Spirit will move the Church to grasp her traditions and come out fighting against the relativist agenda of her enemies.

Until it does so it will always be accused of turning a blind eye to abuses, scandals and the actions of a few, who have done more harm to the Church established by Jesus Christ than 100 reformations.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

God's Creation is Sublime and Beautiful - and Cheesy!

There is much debate about the creation of the universe. The atheists talk-up the big bang theory as if it were fact (hint: a theory is a theory). Part of this is the theory of evolution (again a theory).

These days, from the BBC to the classroom, these theories are promoted and pushed as established facts, not theories. Anyone who thinks otherwise is painted as a backwoodsman or a nutty extremist (professors, scientists and others who do not follow the money are airbrushed out of the equation, of course).

The Human Eye
To me it is a matter of faith. We can choose between two religions. Each involve leaps of faith. Both entail belief in something that cannot, in and of itself, be proven (though I would argue, of course, that the evidence of God is all around us, and of His Son Jesus Christ is well documented). Yet there is no doubt that the evolution religion is in the ascendancy.

Personally I have always thought that the human eye proves creation. It proves the hand of a sentient being, creating things of such sublime beauty, such individuality, and such intricate complexity - that there is no way it could have happened by happy chance, with lightning hitting a lump of mud x billions of years ago. Everything about the human eye screams that is was made, designed and perfected by God.


I wasn't feeling very well this afternoon, a bit tired and sick, so early evening I thought I'll have a little pick-me-up (I happen to have a dispensation from fasting) and when I went to the kitchen I saw a sight which made my heart leap for joy. There, sat on the side was some Italian cheese, but not just any Italian cheese, it was Parmigiano Reggiano. I cut off a small piece (part of its beauty is you only need a small piece, such is its maturity and taste), and nibbled on it. Oh the wonderful taste of that cheese! Not even Caerphilly cheese comes close.

And I got to wonder at the beauty of God's creation.

A Sign From the Good Cheese's region
Sometimes we search for perfect examples of God and his creation. Sure we have intricate examples such as the human eye, and for us Catholics we have the sublime wonder that is transubstantiation and the miracle of the Real Presence -- though I fully admit that the latter is difficult for non-Catholics to grasp.

Sometimes I think that the beauty of more "ordinary" things can reflect the beauty of creation and the Creator. It can sound 'schmaltzy' I know, but a leaf on a tree, a bumble bee in flight, a catfish in a rockpool, sometimes these can stir the soul. And do you know what? When I tasted that Parmigiano Reggiano today, when its flavour burst in my mouth, I thanked God. That fullness of flavour, that glorious texture. What a gift from God's bounty!

I have a mug, which I use every day for my many cups of tea (much to my good lady's chagrin, for she likes her tea in far daintier receptacles) which bears the legend:


"Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine. 

Though the quote continues:


At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!"

It also has the image of Hilaire Belloc, the Catholic writer, journalist, MP, social commentator and defender of the Common Good and the Faith, from whom the quote comes. It hardly seems fair to drink such an abstentious drink as tea in a vessel bearing such a quote, though at Lent it does seems more apt.

God created this world and all that's in it, of that I am sure. There is so much of beauty in it,so much for which to thank our Creator. And so it is that I can see Almighty God reflected in a small nugget of Italian cheese.

So, with huge apologies to Hilaire Belloc, may his soul rest in peace, here goes:


God's Creation can stun and please,
'Tis mirrored in fine Italian cheese.
 
At least I’ve always found it so. 
Benedicamus Domino!

Friday, 25 March 2011

A Scottish Sermon

“A’ve kent o’ better folk than you, efter they were deed, in the place where the wurm dieth not and the fire is not quenched, callin’ out tae the Lord in their agony: ‘O Lord, A niver kent it wud be as bad as this’.

“And the Lord — out of His love and tender mercy — vouchsafed the answer:

‘Weel, ye ken noo!’.”

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Bible's Buried Secrets: Old Heresies Dressed Up As New

Francesca Stavrakopoulou, the smiling face of anti-Christ atheism
I caught two things today by unhappy chance. The first was one of the happy clappy crowd, that sing-song tribe that infest the airwaves at certain times of the morning intent on putting you off your corn flakes, and via their syrupy forced happiness seem to induce a depression over the fact that religion can descend into a Kum-ba-ya meets Eastenders mentality/theology-lite.

This one was akin to the Sisters of Perpetual M&S, the cardigan-clad nuns, only worse: a CofE priestess. She was busy telling the millions listening (to Radio 2) how great a BBC2 TV series about the Bible is and how great it is that the presenter is an atheist.

How typical. How could anyone, claiming to be a Christian, find solace that a soul is (temporarily, I hope) lost to God, let alone someone with access to a prime time TV show which, no doubt, would be busy trying to "prove" the Bible was so much hogwash,so many fairy tales that no-one in the 'modern world' could take seriously?

No doubt so many vicars, vicaresses, priests and priestesses will celebrate, for they too are atheists, they too do not believe in the Bible. They too do not accept the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord, they too do not accept the Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception, the Incarnation of God-made-man, and so much more. They certainly do not believe in Transubstantiation and the Real Presence of Our Lord.

Welcome to the world of the social-worker-priest(ess). Oh yes, you see, Jesus was a great man. He loved the poor, he preached a brand of socialism, and he loved his neighbour. I use a small "h" because he, the cuddly Jesus, is not God to these people, he is the good guy. This is the cult of "Jesus hearts U" so beloved of yuchy modern tapestries, in yuchy modern roller-disco churches: all Godless, all soulless, all empty.

Then this evening I just about remembered this programme was on, and so I switched on the TV to catch the last 5 minutes of "the Bible's Buried Secrets." What I heard was nothing new (is anything new under Heaven?) but a miasma of old lies and old anti-Christian propaganda as insideous as the whisperings of the serpent in Paradise (which, next week, we'll be told didn't exist).

Some years ago I read Hilaire Belloc's superb book The Great Heresies. Get yourself a copy or read it online (see below). This wonderful defender of all things Catholic makes it clear that there is indeed nothing new under Heaven, that all heresies are just repeats of old lies, woven anew, presented in new form, designed to attack the Faith from left, then from right, on a new front here, then from a different angle there. So it was with this BBC2 series tonight.

Oh the Jews weren't monotheists but invented this later, the angels were pagan deities reinvented, other pagan gods became demons (I always thought they were demons), and the oldest lie of all (repeated by Jews, gnostics, pagans, protestants, atheists and all the enemies of Christ for almost 2000 years), that the Virgin Mary was a reinvention of a pagan fertility goddess (take your pick of which one) and so Christians venerate a pagan deity.

You see the presenter of the BBC programme, Hebrew scholar Francesca Stavrakopoulou, is giving us nothing new. This is classic Sanhedrin propaganda, reinvented by the mass murderer and Church desecrator Cromwell, spread anew by Communist commissars by the point of the gun, and now promoted by the BBC in the age of multi-format media.

The sad thing, in the post-Dan Brown Da Vinci Code era, these old lies of the enemies of the Church have become the stock-in-trade of the media luvees. Those too busy in their drug-addled media world, enveloped in a world full of sin and debauchery, have picked up the oldest of lies, dressed them up in 21st Century garb, and spoon fed them to people who think they are individualists by following this "new" religion.

That a CofE priestess rejoices in this TV series and its atheist presenter with an anti-Bible and anti-Christ agenda is, in and of itself shocking. Yet I am not surprised in the least. Ever since St Cuthbert's heretical "descendant," the layman Jenkins, dressed in Bishop's garb in Durham presented the world with his Resurrection-doubting beliefs in the 1980s (the same man went onto bless one of the first to "bless" a civil partnership in 2005), the empty vessel that is the post-Reformation State religion has been all too obvious.

Belloc was right. The Church has always been, and will always be under attack. His good friend GK Chesterton once described the Church's history as an adventure, as exciting because it swerves one way to avoid one heresy (that the Church is too worldly), then swerves the other way to avoid another heresy (that the Church is too spiritual) and so the history of the Church is not one long boring 'plod' but rather a breath-taking escapade to avoid the errors of the world.

That Radio 2's trendy CofE priestess could find any comfort in yet another assault on the Church, on Christ, on the angels and saints, and on the Holy Mother of God speaks volumes about the CofE. Any pretence that it is in any way Apostolic is out the window. This "church" of priestesses, of homosexuals, of Bible burning is a whited sepulchre, seemingly  'Christian' on the outside, yet internally is little more than an empty vessel making a lot of noise. It has become so "inclusive" that whilst it is busy, at its front door, hugging a world that is debauched, atheist and anti-Christ, it cannot see that at the side door its faithful, with any remnant of that Apostolic tradition, are leaving in droves to join the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

That the BBC is putting out this gnostic-pagan nonsense, dressed up in modern media clothes, and then promoting it on another outlet tells us all we need to know about the BBC, that is if we had any doubts about its agenda to begin with. Its idea of religious output is Songs of Praise. Puuurrrlease!

Let us hope and pray that the modernist heretics inside the Catholic Church do not put-off the Anglicans finding their home-in-Rome. The last thing these many thousands of souls need is to escape one nest of vipers dressing up atheism, gnosticism, goddess-worship feminism, social-worker vicars and priestesses, and kum-ba-ya meats Eastenders theology as Christianity, only to find the small but vocal heretics in the Catholic Church that the holy pope St Pius X warned us about in his Syllabus of Errors.

Let us hope and pray, for our hope is in God, and the Saints that will guide the Church and keep her loyal to the Magisterium and to her Traditions, so that we can (in the imagery of GKC) swerve to avoid the heresies of this age and thus embark on another adventure with our beloved Church.

Link:
The Great Heresies by Hilaire Belloc

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Happy St Joseph's Day!

Sometimes you read a piece online, perhaps an article on a site, sometimes an entry in a blog, and you think to yourself "wow - that's good" (if you've had a 'bad day at the office' you might even think "I wish I'd written that"); usually for me - as in this case - the feature is so good it makes my feeble offerings pale by comparison.

I think this sentence in particular encapsulates this most powerful Saint and what he can mean to us all: "Joseph is the patron of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus’ public life, he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth." What a wonderfully moving thing to write. Beautiful.

So here it is in its entirety with a very worthy H/T and bravo (and encore) to Catholicism Pure and Simple:

The Feast of St Joseph

Everything we know about the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture and that has seemed too little for those who made up legends about him.



We know he was a carpenter, a working man, for the sceptical Nazarenes ask about Jesus, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55). He wasn’t rich for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

Despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage. Luke and Matthew disagree some about the details of Joseph’s genealogy but they both mark his descent from David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Indeed the angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as “son of David,” a royal title used also for Jesus.

We know Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When he discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been betrothed, he knew the child was not his but was as yet unaware that she was carrying the Son of God. He planned to divorce Mary according to the law but he was concerned for her suffering and safety. He knew that women accused to adultery could be stoned to death, so he decided to divorce her quietly and not expose her to shame or cruelty (Matthew 1:19-25).


We know Joseph was man of faith, obedient to whatever God asked of him without knowing the outcome. When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about the child Mary was carrying, Joseph immediately and without question or concern for gossip, took Mary as his wife. When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).

We know Joseph loved Jesus. His one concern was for the safety of this child entrusted to him. Not only did he leave his home to protect Jesus, but upon his return settled in the obscure town of Nazareth out of fear for his life. When Jesus stayed in the Temple we are told Joseph (along with Mary) searched with great anxiety for three days for him (Luke 2:48). We also know that Joseph treated Jesus as his own son for over and over the people of Nazareth  say of Jesus, “Is this not the son of Joseph?” (Luke 4:22)



We know Joseph respected God. He followed God’s commands in handling the situation with Mary and going to Jerusalem  to have Jesus  circumcised and Mary purified after Jesus’ birth. We are told that he took his family to Jerusalem every year for Passover, something that could not have been easy for a working man.
Since Joseph does not appear in Jesus’ public life, at his death, or resurrection, many historians believe Joseph probably had died before Jesus entered public ministry.

Joseph is the patron of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus’ public life, he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth.

Joseph is also patron of the universal Church, fathers, carpenters, and social justice.

There is much we wish we could know about Joseph -where and when he was born, how he spent his days, when and how he died. But Sacred Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was — “a righteous man” (Matthew 1:18).

Prayer to St. Joseph

O Glorious St. Joseph, thou who hast power to render possible things that are for us impossible, come to our aid in our present troubles and distress. Take this important and difficult affair under thy particular protection that it may end happily.

O dear St. Joseph, all our confidence is in thee. Let it not be said that we would invoke thee in vain and since thou art so powerful with Jesus and Mary, show that thy goodness equals thy power.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Please Pray for Fr Kelly of Dunvant Parish

I learnt this week that Fr. Kelly, the Swansea-based priest who takes Communion to the sick at Singleton hospital, has been very unwell and has lost the sight in one eye.

Fr. Kelly was a huge comfort to me when I was hospitalised last year, and came every single day to bring Holy Communion to me and others.

He is a real man of God, a real inspiration to many poor souls in pain, anguish and uncertainty; a role he has carried out for many years.

Please keep him in your prayers, that he may recover well and take up his ministry again, which he loves so much.

Please, if you can offer up a prayer, perhaps a decade of the rosary, for Fr. P Kelly of St Joachim and St Anne Parish, Dunvant, Swansea.

Should Catholics Boycott Red Nose Day?

A few years back I read that Comic Relief (aka Red Nose Day) should not be supported by Catholics because they gave monies to foundations and organisations that promoted contraception and abortion.

Does anyone know if this is still the case?

If it is, should we as Catholics be more outspoken in opposing Red Nose Day -- and in promoting alternatives that Catholics and 'men of goodwill' can donate to with a clear conscience?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day

A very Happy St Patrick's Day to you!

Very often in life, it is not so much what the world throws at us, but how we take these opportunities.

St Patrick was a Welsh boy/young man (living in one of the Welsh kingdoms stretching from Strathclyde and the Borders in the north to Cumbria, Lancashire, Wales and onto Cornwall in the south), taken by Irish raiders and put into slavery.

When he escaped back to his homeland did he think of war? Retribution? Revenge? Destruction?

No, he wanted to return to Ireland, use his knowledge of the land, and convert souls to Christ and establish the Catholic Church in Ireland and plant the seeds of monasticism (then flourishing in the lands of the Welsh) in Ireland where they would become a beacon of light to the whole of Europe in what we now call the 'Dark Ages.'

Life will often (as the Americans say) throw us a "curved ball," and it is then down to us. Do we, like the great Welsh Catholic St Patrick, use it to glorify God, or do we retreat into bitterness, resentfulness and solitude?

Happy St Patrick's Day to one and all!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Christianity and Homosexuality: Welcome to Topsy Turvy Land

Owen and Eunice Johns
I know the case of Eunice and Owen Johns, the married couple who cared for many foster children over the years only to be rejected by their local council because their Christian beliefs meant they could not speak positively about homosexuality, has taken up many column inches in the press, in the blogosphere etc.

All I will say about their case per se is

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad" (Latin: Quem deus vult perdere, dementat prius).
On last night's prime-time BBC One Show a presenter/journo interviewed the couple and said 'so you are prepared to put your Christian beliefs ahead of the welfare of children.'

I don't think I'd ever heard such Orwellian newspeak so blatantly put.

They were not putting the children's welfare on the back seat (and thus putting the children at risk). Being Christian (and Catholic) is like being human, or being Welsh, or being European.

You are what you are.

Because I am Welsh and (for example) I will always cheer Wales when they play rugby does not mean that I put the welfare of my children on the back-burner. If I was to foster an English child (or French, African or Japanese) it would not impinge on my caring for that child, even though my support for Wales is far more a personal opinion and open to debate than the 2000 year fact central to Western civilisation that is Catholicism (and Christianity).

It shows how relativism and the homosexual lobby have twisted facts, words and media output.

Is Christianity now something to be sneered at? Is Christianity "backwards" or "hateful?"

Which (to use modern media language) 'lifestyle choice' is imbued with drugs? Which has a lower life-span? Which has a greater relationship break-up rate? Which promotes multiple "partners" and sexual acts with strangers? Which has extreme and violent sexual acts as part of its worldview? Which promotes sexual liaisons in public, including dirty toilets? Which encourages sexual activity that can spread a killer disease? Which promotes public processions involving (illegal) lewd behaviour?

Is it Christianity that poses all these risks to public decency and the morals of young people?

Why is it when Christians use sober, reasoned and charitable language towards homosexuality (for the good of homosexuals) then they can expect a knock on the door from the police or action taken against them by councils; yet when homosexuals use hateful, twisted, bitter, violent and blasphemous language and acts against Christianity and Christians (and Christ!) in public, in the media, on their organised displays and activities, the police turn a wilful blind eye.

We have even had the police being told (by their superiors) to ignore illegal homosexual activity in public parks, and ignoring blatantly illegal homosexual activity on "pride" marches and rallies, although they police them, indeed police officers are urged to take part in uniform, and many local councils bank-roll the events that otherwise would be financial flops.

The Pope warned UK politicians quite vividly about relativism and the side-lining of Catholicism, the Faith these very islands are rooted in.


Yet the march of relativism and the side-lining of Christianity goes on.

Thus we have a caring couple who have helped many a poor youngster, possible troubled souls etc., painted as hate-mongers who 'put Christianity before the care of young people.'

We are on the road to destruction, because things are getting madder by the week.

Back in his day G.K. Chesterton wrote the following essay after taking umbrage at a news headline concerning the matter of shop assistants marrying. How much more topsy turvy would he consider our world where Elton John is all but canonised for having a "gayby" (on Christmas day!) whereas Owen and Eunice Johns are made into outcasts for being (I hope they will pardon me) run of the mill, normal Christians daring to be... er... Christian.

Listen closely. That whirring sound is GKC spinning so fast they could run the national grid off him.


Quem deus vult perdere, dementat prius

---

In Topsy-Turvy Land by G.K. Chesterton



Last week, in an idle metaphor, I took the tumbling of trees and the secret energy of the wind as typical of the visible world moving under the violence of the invisible. I took this metaphor merely because I happened to be writing the article in a wood. Nevertheless, now that I return to Fleet Street (which seems to me, I confess, much better and more poetical than all the wild woods in the world), I am strangely haunted by this accidental comparison. The people's figures seem a forest and their soul a wind. All the human personalities which speak or signal to me seem to have this fantastic character of the fringe of the forest against the sky. That man that talks to me, what is he but an articulate tree? That driver of a van who waves his hands wildly at me to tell me to get out of the way, what is he but a bunch of branches stirred and swayed by a spiritual wind, a sylvan object that I can continue to contemplate with calm? That policeman who lifts his hand to warn three omnibuses of the peril that they run in encountering my person, what is he but a shrub shaken for a moment with that blast of human law which is a thing stronger than anarchy? Gradually this impression of the woods wears off. But this black-and-white contrast between the visible and invisible, this deep sense that the one essential belief is belief in the invisible as against the visible, is suddenly and sensationally brought back to my mind. Exactly at the moment when Fleet Street has grown most familiar (that is, most bewildering and bright), my eye catches a poster of vivid violet, on which I see written in large black letters these remarkable words: "Should Shop Assistants Marry?"

. . . . .

When I saw those words everything might just as well have turned upside down. The men in Fleet Street might have been walking about on their hands. The cross of St. Paul's might have been hanging in the air upside down. For I realise that I have really come into a topsy-turvy country; I have come into the country where men do definitely believe that the waving of the trees makes the wind. That is to say, they believe that the material circumstances, however black and twisted, are more important than the spiritual realities, however powerful and pure. "Should Shop Assistants Marry?" I am puzzled to think what some periods and schools of human history would have made of such a question. The ascetics of the East or of some periods of the early Church would have thought that the question meant, "Are not shop assistants too saintly, too much of another world, even to feel the emotions of the sexes?" But I suppose that is not what the purple poster means. In some pagan cities it might have meant, "Shall slaves so vile as shop assistants even be allowed to propagate their abject race?" But I suppose that is not what the purple poster meant. We must face, I fear, the full insanity of what it does mean. It does really mean that a section of the human race is asking whether the primary relations of the two human sexes are particularly good for modern shops. The human race is asking whether Adam and Eve are entirely suitable for Marshall and Snelgrove. If this is not topsy-turvy I cannot imagine what would be. We ask whether the universal institution will improve our (please God) temporary institution. Yet I have known many such questions. For instance, I have known a man ask seriously, "Does Democracy help the Empire?" Which is like saying, "Is art favourable to frescoes?"

I say that there are many such questions asked. But if the world ever runs short of them, I can suggest a large number of questions of precisely the same kind, based on precisely the same principle.

"Do Feet Improve Boots?"--"Is Bread Better when Eaten?"--"Should Hats have Heads in them?"--"Do People Spoil a Town?"--"Do Walls Ruin Wall-papers?"--"Should Neckties enclose Necks?"--"Do Hands Hurt Walking-sticks?"--"Does Burning Destroy Firewood?"--"Is Cleanliness Good for Soap?"--"Can Cricket Really Improve Cricket-bats?"--"Shall We Take Brides with our Wedding Rings?" and a hundred others.

Not one of these questions differs at all in intellectual purport or in intellectual value from the question which I have quoted from the purple poster, or from any of the typical questions asked by half of the earnest economists of our times. All the questions they ask are of this character; they are all tinged with this same initial absurdity. They do not ask if the means is suited to the end; they all ask (with profound and penetrating scepticism) if the end is suited to the means. They do not ask whether the tail suits the dog. They all ask whether a dog is (by the highest artistic canons) the most ornamental appendage that can be put at the end of a tail. In short, instead of asking whether our modern arrangements, our streets, trades, bargains, laws, and concrete institutions are suited to the primal and permanent idea of a healthy human life, they never admit that healthy human life into the discussion at all, except suddenly and accidentally at odd moments; and then they only ask whether that healthy human life is suited to our streets and trades. Perfection may be attainable or unattainable as an end. It may or may not be possible to talk of imperfection as a means to perfection. But surely it passes toleration to talk of perfection as a means to imperfection. The New Jerusalem may be a reality. It may be a dream. But surely it is too outrageous to say that the New Jerusalem is a reality on the road to Birmingham.

. . . . .

This is the most enormous and at the same time the most secret of the modern tyrannies of materialism. In theory the thing ought to be simple enough. A really human human being would always put the spiritual things first. A walking and speaking statue of God finds himself at one particular moment employed as a shop assistant. He has in himself a power of terrible love, a promise of paternity, a thirst for some loyalty that shall unify life, and in the ordinary course of things he asks himself, "How far do the existing conditions of those assisting in shops fit in with my evident and epic destiny in the matter of love and marriage?" But here, as I have said, comes in the quiet and crushing power of modern materialism. It prevents him rising in rebellion, as he would otherwise do. By perpetually talking about environment and visible things, by perpetually talking about economics and physical necessity, painting and keeping repainted a perpetual picture of iron machinery and merciless engines, of rails of steel, and of towers of stone, modern materialism at last produces this tremendous impression in which the truth is stated upside down. At last the result is achieved. The man does not say as he ought to have said, "Should married men endure being modern shop assistants?" The man says, "Should shop assistants marry?" Triumph has completed the immense illusion of materialism. The slave does not say, "Are these chains worthy of me?" The slave says scientifically and contentedly, "Am I even worthy of these chains?"


[The end] 

Monday, 14 March 2011

Fr J Hardon SJ, on Communion in the Hand

"Behind Communion in the hand—I wish to repeat and make as plain as I can—is a weakening, a conscious, deliberate weakening of faith in the Real Presence.... Whatever you can do to stop Communion in the hand will be blessed by God.”

- Fr. Hardon, S.J., November 1st, 1997 Call to Holiness Conference in Detroit, Michigan, panel discussion. 

At the moment I am reading With Us Today: On the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, (Saint Austin Press: 2002) kindly loaned to me by a fellow parishioner. It is a magnificent read which would deepen any person's love of Our Lord in the Sacred Species and increase devotion to the Real Presence.

I highly recommend this wonderful book.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Turn the Other Cheek? Forgive and Forget? Lenten Dialogue

As Alexander Pope said - to err is human, to forgive is divine.*

As normal blokes and women, it is all too often hard to turn the other cheek.

It sounds so simple doesn't it? It is an easy to understand command, it should be easy to do. Yet in practice it is far from easy!

We are normal people. Yes, we are Catholics (by the Grace of God and not our own "power") and called to Sainthood, but we are still all too normal. Sinners. Failing. Falling. Even those of us who have picked up our crosses and are struggling on our own Via Dolorosa, all too often fall (as did Christ) but use it as an excuse for a time-out, instead of having the courage to get to the Confessional, and quickly get back on that weary path that (from a worldly perspective) can be so thankless.

Thus it is that we struggle along - and what happens when some bampot crosses our path with an evil word, a malevolent deed, or even worse some underhand and dirty trick (even dressed up as Saintliness) against someone we love.

How easy is it then to follow the command of Our Lord? How easy is it then to forgive?

Especially if a loved one has been hurt, when should we demand justice, when should we seek to turn the other cheek?


It's not so easy then is it? Not so straight forward?

A drunk driver carelessly mows down your young child and fails to stop.

Would you have the strength to forgive?

I honestly don't think in those circumstances I would. I would certainly hope and pray before Our Lord and try to find solace in Him, but in such circumstances I can fully understand those who demand justice.

I daresay this is a theological point, and the theologians can no doubt say that both justice and forgiveness can be sought at one and the same time (isn't that the whole basis of Purgatory?).

Outside of this perhaps most "extreme" example of the drunk driver, in our daily lives we often have people who annoy, belittle, attack, trivialise us. I think in these circumstances we should forgive and forget. That is not to say we should leave ourselves as open targets, nor fail to report bad behaviour when we fear it could be turned against others who may not be able to handle it, but I do think it is vital to (in modern world terms) "move on."

When Our Lord sent his disciples out to preach he said to them that if a town rejects them, that they were to simply (I paraphrase) 'shake the dust from their feet' and move on.

I believe this is the same mentality and Divine Guidance when it comes to turning the other cheek.

For when we dwell on past wrongs, let them eat us up inside, work out ways of revenge, worry about the person who wronged us etc. it is like a worm burying its way into our guts, ever nibbling and gnawing away, ever bothering and disturbing us.

In forgiving these people and turning the other cheek, we are in effect, shaking the dust from our feet and moving on.

Don't worry about them. Move on. Get on with good things. Be positive. There is so much in this world we can do for ourselves, for our families, for our communities and parishes, for strangers, for the poor...

I am minded of Mother Theresa's words re. that people will attack you for doing good - do good anyway etc.

To constantly wrangle over a wrong committed against us can, I think, make the perpetrator the final victor because he has succeeded in tying us up in knots over his action. When we shrug our shoulders and walk on, the perpetrator is left powerless and may (it is hoped) give up a lost cause.

Certainly it is my experience that when you are wronged and you fight back (even with right on your side) the person assaulting you with calumnies will simply twist and turn and add in more lies and half-truths, thus eating up more of your time and energy in gainsaying these things.

This Lent then, just try and let some past (or current!) grievance that has weighed on you for some time slip away. Forgive the person in your heart and pray for their eternal soul.

It may not be easy, but it will release you and let you move on.

After all, if you are knocked down this coming week and are lucky enough to have a priest attend your dying moments, you will be asked if you forgive everyone who has sinned against you.

Better to do so beforehand?

We say the Pater Noster every day. Do we listen to the words we are saying?

Forgive us our trespasses.
As we forgive those who trespass against us.

---

*I apologise, I first posted this, thinking it was a quote from Our Lord. My poor theology, Bible knowledge shows through yet again. I am still learning... Pope was born in London, 1688 to Catholic parents and went to "illegal" Catholc schools.

Friday, 11 March 2011

GK Chesterton on neighbourly Love

As is usually the case GKC manages to encompass so much, so witily, in just a few words:

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbours, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."

G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Famous Welsh Catholic #2: Alice Thomas Ellis

I am grateful, once again, to Linen on the Hedgerow for a most interesting post.

If you don't already follow LotH blog, you should do. It is one of my favourites, serious yet amusing; direct yet whimsical; bitingly Orthodox yet warm and welcoming. It is Chestertonian in every regard.

Now I've earned my £5 ;-), onto the matter at hand.

I did not know of Alice Thomas Ellis, but her treatment seems all too familiar: i.e. a genuine Catholic, seeking to defend Catholicism, ostracised for daring to speak out.

Her book has a forward by Richard Ingrams, so I simply must get a copy! What a title. Relativism and Modernism skewered in four words. Succinct and to the point. I love it. I am salivating (in a very Lenten, controlled way) at the prospect of getting my paws on a copy.

Shrove Tuesday: To Confession We Go!

Shrove comes from the old Anglo-Saxon of shriven: to "present oneself to a priest for confession, penance, and absolution." (dictionary.com).

Ideally you should get to Confession during Lent. It is the one time of the year when Catholics are honour-bound to Confess, so that we may prepare ourselves for Easter.

Of course Lent is a wonderful time to gain many graces (for oneself, one's family, sinners, separated brethren souls in purgatory etc.) through fasting and abstinence.

We should also remember alms giving, especially to the poor. Whilst we should always be mindful of alms giving, it is vitally important in Lent.

Being a Catholic is not only about "giving up" things, but also about "doing" things, the negative and the positive if you want to think in worldly terms.

So choose a good cause, preferably Catholic, preferably which will directly help the poor.

So through the Confessional, fasting, alms and Communion, we can help make this a wonderful season in the Church's year: for us and for others.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Churches Built on Sand: Without the Real Presence of Christ

I was thinking over the readings from last Sunday's Mass, especially the Bible passage about the fool who builds his house on sand.

Now I will be the first to acknowledge that whilst I find theology fascinating, I am no theologian. My Latin is dire, and my knowledge of Greek, Hebrew etc. non-existent.

I am one of those Catholics that does enjoy reading decent Catholic books when time permits, but has to rely on the certitude of the guidance put forth (over many centuries) by Holy Mother Church.

I can only read material, understand it, meditate on it, through the prism of Orthodox Catholicism. As I'm not a theologian, it's the only way I can be sure of being on absolutely solid ground.

That's one of the reasons I get so flummoxed and bamboozled when I read of "experts" or "Catholics" who deny transubstantiation, or who try and make out the Latin Mass is "divisive." After all, the Church has always been crystal clear for centuries that the Real Presence of Our Lord (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity) is an absolute cornerstone of our Faith.

Likewise, the Popes said that the Tridentine Mass was eternally valid, and many Saints went to their deaths after celebrating it, attending it or defending it. How could such a treasure trove of graces, the very Church-decreed vehicle for Catholics to witness the Last Supper and the Passion of the Cross, and to bring about the Sacred Mystery of Transubstantiation itself ever be termed "divisive?"

I know sometimes it seems like hard-headedness and even a form of false piety, but in finding solace in the simple (!) facts of Catholicism can be like finding a port in the storm, the storm being this mad world (and anyone who raises a family, runs a business and lives a life trying to make ends meet to pay the bills knows that the world can be beautiful one moment and mad the next).

Thus it is that no matter what the world throws at us, as Catholics, we always have the certitude of Our Lord, in the Blessed Sacrament.

As well as being a hopeless Theologian I am also dire when it comes to quoting from the Bible. Our Lord said He would be with us until the end of the world (yes, I'm paraphrasing) and I take solace in that. I also think that when He said that, He had a special meaning: the Blessed Sacrament.

He was leaving this world as God-made-man, but He would be staying, in a quite literal sense, in the Blessed Sacrament, that we might all visit Him, adore Him, and place our worries before Him.

Now to return to last Sunday's readings and the house on sand and the house on rock.

I couldn't help but thinking that Our Lord again had a special meaning in this parable.

Aren't the false religions of this world like the houses built on sand? Think of the Protestant churches. Within mere years of the Reformation, Luther, Calvin and Zwingli were arguing and at each others' throats. Did the Disciples of Christ behave like this? The Protestants have the word of a man (they can chose which of the three here named) to be the founder of their church, to dictate their theology, their Sunday service.

We have the word of Jesus Christ, who made St Peter the very first Pope, who founded the Catholic Church, who instituted the Sacrifice of the Mass. This has not changed in 2000 years.

I do not think it was an accident that Our Lord referred to a house built on rock, for most of us know that when Christ made St Peter the first Pope and head of His Catholic Church, he said (I shall paraphrase again) 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.' As Catholics should know this history, we should also know that Peter means Rock.

Thus when Our Lord says build your house on rock, I believe He was reminding us that our homes, our families and our souls belong in the security, the sanctity and the surety that is His Holy Catholic Church.

Only there will we get the strength we need, in the Sacraments but most especially through the Real Presence and Holy Communion with Our Lord, to find security in this world. For as many wise men, living and dead, have said, the strength we need is not our own, but the strength of Our Lord Jesus Christ and where else can we hope to be near to Him, Body Blood Soul and Divinity but at the Altar of God?

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Where Will the Liberals and Atheists Agenda Stop?

David Starkey Exposes the New Liberal Tyranny



H/T to That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill. Funny isn't it how it takes a known homosexual to see the elephant in the room.

I suppose if a Catholic had said similar it would have been a "hate crime."

Shahbaz Bhatti: When is a Catholic NOT a Catholic?

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's minority affairs minister who was shot yesterday by Islamic militant was (is) a Catholic.

We might surmise that he is a martyr, though the distinction is for Holy Mother Church to decide.

One thing that shocked me isn't that Catholics get such a bad deal in Pakistan, for that is well known.

No, what surprised me is that the British media denied his Catholicism. On numerous reports it said he was a "Christian" but no mention was made of his being a member of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Rome.

Is it too much to put Catholics in a good light?

Is it too much to show Catholics as the victims (even martyrs)?

Is it too much to show Catholics standing up for decency?

If this man had abusive tendencies, if he had robbed a bank, if he had committed a terrorist attack, you can be sure the BBC and the organised atheists would be screeching his Catholicism from the rooftops.

Yet a man was murdered for seeking the end of a law used to murder Catholics on made-up evidence, and his Catholicism is not newsworthy?

Is Catholicism (outside of a Papal visit) only newsworthy when it can be used to attack the Church and the Papacy?

It would seem so.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Shahbaz Bhatti.

I Hope my Fellow Welshmen can Forgive me!

I speak of course of the Welshmen of Cornwall.

The Cornish were known as the South or West Welshmen.

As Wikipedia says:

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles states that in 825 (adjusted date) a battle was fought involving the "Welsh", presumably those of Cornwall, and the Defnas (men of Devon). It only states:- "The Westwealas (Cornish) and the Defnas (men of Devon) fought at Gafulforda".

Westwealas clearly translates into old Saxon as West Welsh, meaning "West Romans/Foreignors."

There are, even today, many similarities between the Welsh and Cornish languages (numbers 1 to 10 are almost identicle).

So why am I apologising to the Cornish "Welshmen?"

Well, it was their patron Saint's day yesterday and, with one thing and another, I clean forgot to post greetings.

Mea Culpa.

So, belatedly - I'd like to wish all Cornishmen in Kernow and further afield:

Dydh Sen Pyran lowen

Happy St Piran's Day.

 

 

Friday, 4 March 2011

Pilgrimage to York in Honour of St Margaret Clitheroe

St Margaret Clitheroe was a real Catholic heroine, risking everything and giving up her life for our Holy Catholic Faith.

If you can make it to York please do so. It promises to be a tremendous occasion and will surely bring many graces to the people and nation of England, especially as more Anglicans look for their true home.

The Rite: An Honest Film Review by a (Welsh) Catholic

Braveheart: Is it cos I is Welsh? And who nicked Stirling Bridge?
Last Sunday I (and two young accomplices) attended my local multiplex 'World of Cine' to partake in the cinematic feast that is The Rite, starring that Welsh screen presence, Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Having purchased the tickets and carefully avoided the temptations of the foyer (i.e. overpriced sweets, hot dogs and sticky drinks) we hastened to take our seats, a mere 15 minutes early. Sorry, I mean half an hour early: don't you just loathe cinema adverts? And don't even get me started on trailers that give the entire story of forthcoming films away! I mean come on! I'm not American - neither do I watch Eastenders. You can advertise a film without showing me all the pertinent twists and turns.

I shouldn't even mention the highly suspect advert for a male deodorant with the tag-line "Angels will fall." Ridiculous.

 So onto the film.

What to make of it?

Well, this film suffers from what I shall call 'the curse of Braveheart.'

Yes, Mel Gibson, the Catholic who falls on his way to his own Calvary (just like the rest of us), made a wonderful film that really captured the imagination (especially in Scotland!) and certainly showed the faults of Scotland (and Ireland and Wales) in that cowardice, treachery, greed and heroism were present in equal share.

Yes we saw the heroic Scottish Hero Wallace (Catholic & Welsh: Wallace means "Welshman" most likely descended from the Welsh kingdom of Strathclyde) lay down his very life for his country, but in the shadow of the film the gainsayers were quick to quip: 'but it's inaccurate.'

The Battle of Stirling Bridge (the topic of the Corries quite superb song of the same name), was bridgeless! The idea that the Queen of England's daughter was Wallace's. All this and more stretched the credibility and plausibility of a genuinely moving and heroic story.

What were we to believe? Did Wallace kill the traitor Lords? Did the Irish mercenaries switch sides to join the Scots? We (unless we are experts, unless we take a year off to read all the history books, or unless - and this is stretching it a wee bit - we were there) just can't say for sure what was fact and what was a bit of Hollywood license.

We can try to make educated guesses, but what then of the uneducated viewer? Will he dismiss it all as a story with a mere toe dipped in the truth? Or will he swallow it whole just as some people think all homosexuals are loving, caring, monogamous etc. following storylines from TV soap operas?

And therein lies the problem for The Rite.

I enjoyed the film, and as so often is the case with a good film, enjoy the cinematography, the scenes in which the action is set etc. Just seeing the Vatican and Rome in a film that isn't wildly anti-Catholic was a treat, albeit just a glimpse now and then of the Mass would have been "nice" -- but that's not to detract from the wonderful Catholic 'feel' of the film.

My problem however is going away and wondering "was that bit real/true."

I won't give too much away in case you haven't seen the film yet, but there is a major part of the film in which (let's say) a 'famous' person is possessed by a demon (Baal I believe). Now I know the actual person the film character is based on, and I'm sure I'd have read somewhere, or heard from someone if he had been possessed.

It just left me wondering too much and, for me, undermined the premise of a quite wonderful film with a powerful message: i.e. that Satan does exist (and thus proves the existence of God).

The priest, on whose story the film is based (Fr G Thomas), says that all the film is spot on, bar his character being a deacon and having doubts about the Faith. Which leaves me wondering if much else in the film was an absolute faithful transcript of events (some of the 'happenings' being quite extraordinary).

So,all in all I would give the film a thumbs up. It is enjoyable. It does make you think. It may convert the occasional soul. The last image of a Catholic going to Confession was very powerful.

But, personally, I would have preferred a powerful Catholic film without the 'opt out' available to atheists etc. of "most of it isn't true."

Despite my "purist" grumblings I would still give it a healthy 9 out of 10, and before chatting through the pros and cons of the film (so as not to cloud their judgement) my two young minders (helping me avoid any elderly stumbles on uneven floors) gave it 9 out of 10 too.

Two Things to Look Out For:
  • The Welsh writing/graffiti on the wall in the final exorcism scenes.
  • The moving last rites scene as the girl on the bicycle dies.


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

It's St David's Day! Rejoice!

I keep this prayer card in my wallet
I can put it no better than the correspondent to this blog, R Wyn Jones who sent a message saying:

"The sun is shining the daffodils are out and its a good day to be alive in God's own country."

Amen to that. St David performed many miracles and carried out many mortifications including standing neck deep in cold water for hours on end.

Well, the sun shining today feels like a miracle, because for the last month or two it's felt like I've been neck-deep in water!

But in all seriousness let us celebrate! Celebrate our national Saint, celebrate a wonderful man of God, celebrate a Priest who offered the Sacrifice of the Mass, celebrate a great Monastic who kept (the Celtic parts of) these lands Christian through the Dark Ages, keeping the Catholic and Roman Faith alive after the disintegration of the Roman Empire.

And in realising that St David was a truly great Briton and a Catholic, should remind us that the very roots of civilisation, law and all that was/is good is founded in Catholicism.

Remember: you don't have to be Welsh to celebrate and venerate St David.

Happy St David's Day to one and all.


P.S. Go to St David's in Pembrokeshire! It is a beautiful place. You can see the place where St David was born (St Non's Chapel) and remember: two pilgrimages to St David's is worth one to Rome.