Saturday, 31 December 2011

St Paul and Our Lady: Redemption for the New Year

Just read a wonderful piece on Catholicism Pure and Simple, which finished:

"So if [St] Paul shows how low God can reach to save us, Mary shows how high He can elevate us."

What a perfect meditation for the end of one year and the beginning of another.

Happy New Year one and all!

Famous Welsh Catholic #3: Dr Saunders Lewis

Saunders Lewis
There is an oft-used saying that Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Some people take this to mean that being patriotic (or being a patriot) typifies a man as a scoundrel. I do not believe this is the case in either respect, in fact or in regards to the meaning of the saying. Patriots as a whole tend to be decent enough types within the confines of their human nature (as patriotism tends to butter no parsnips) and the aforementioned non-patriotic scoundrels tend to run for cover in patriotic ranks when the proverbial hits the fan.

You will rarely find, for example, in the ranks of day-to-day patriots, the like of the London City banker or the Marxist provocateur. For the former, patriotism restricts profits and if he can make more money by sacking English workers and using sweat-shop labour, he will. Money is his god, and wherever he can make a profit is (temporarily!) his homeland -- to be defecated upon when he can make better profits elswehere. It is only when his operating base in the City of London faces a new tax, that he may become an uber-patriot, defending his "rights" to use tax-havens etc.

For the latter, the Marxian commissar, patriotism is, like God, to be attacked at every opportunity, both being "opiates of the people" - until they feel pressurised and under assault, then they will use the cloaks of patriotism (and even Christianity): as they did in WW2-era USSR. Marxists can seldom be trusted, again to give WW2 as an example, prior to 1941 it was a "capitalist war" and some Trade Unionists even organised go-slows or work to rules (so were seen as "anti-patriotic"). After 1941, of course, it became a 'war against fascism' and they urged an all-out effort (and so became "uber-patriots"). All this was exposed by the former high-ranking Marxist, Douglas Hyde, who converted to Catholicism and exposed Marxist hypocrisy in is autobiography entitled I Believed.

The Church herself teaches that patriotism is normal, we are creatures of our soil, via nature and nurture, and the Just War theory demands that should our homeland be invaded, for example, we are justified in defending it from the oppressor (a Catholic tenet that gives rights to the Afghan tribesman that the US GI in Afghanistan does not seemingly enjoy).

In Wales, Nationalism came of age through the teachings of Dr Saunders Lewis, one of the co-founders of Plaid Cymru, whose February 1962 radio talk entitled the Fate of the Language gave rise to the Welsh Language Society, which in turn made Welsh a growing rather than a dying language by 2011.

In a recent sermon in our own humble parish, Bishop emeritus Daniel Mullins gave the example of Dr Saunders Lewis as one of the greatest post-WW2 European Catholic thinkers. Saunders Lewis taught Bishop Mullins to read and speak Welsh when he was his parishioner in Penarth, a beautiful church I had reason to visit quite recently for a relative's wedding.

In his booklet The Principles of Nationalism, Dr Saunders Lewis outlines nationalism as a Catholic would understand it. He salutes the nationalism of nations like Wales within the (Holy?) Roman Empire, and outlines how nationalism isn't about borders, barbed wire, invasions or xenophobia. he extols what is, in essence, a Catholic vision of nationalism: to celebrate one's nation,one's culture, one's heritage, one's history etc. within the bedrock of Christendom.

I have few of the qualities of Saunders Lewis (apart from our shared Faith and nationality) and so I doubt I can do his writings justice, but this is what patriotism should be. A perfectly natural celebration of shared values, heritage and culture within a wider shared history and culture that is Christian. Within a truly Catholic Europe the various nationalities would be free to celebrate their nationhood, within a shared common value system, one far above and beyond the false, sterile, death-culture, control-freakery of the current European Union.

Patriotism is as natural as wanting to own one's home, seeking to protect one's family, and wanting to live in a crime-free and safe society (all perfectly Catholic values). What worries me is when the scoundrels out there who normally pooh-pooh patriotism (and Catholicism!) as something "backwards" or "medieval" scramble to wave their little plastic flags and pound the jingoistic flag.

Sometimes this is to drum up support for a highly questionable war (which we've seen more than enough of lately); sometimes it is to defend greed and profits by the few (e.g. defending the "rights" of the City of London), and sometimes it is even to defend the liberal anti-family relativistic (anti-) values of the UK when they are questioned (for example by the Pope).

So patriotism, when it becomes the lifeblood of the people, as a means to celebrate culture, values, language and the Common Good is perfectly natural, perfectly Catholic and should be seen as normal and healthy for the national body as breathing is for the actual body.

But beware when you see scoundrels running to grab a flag and embrace patriotism - because then you know they are up to no good.

Nationalism when it is natural, normal and respectful is thoroughly Catholic, as long as it acts within the laws of Holy Mother Church (no unjust wars, not against the Common Good, not acting against the state in society of the working classes etc. etc.).

It is when "nationalism" becomes jingoistic, aggressive and anti-Catholic in nature that it is to be avoided at all costs. Sadly for all too long in the UK we have been drip-fed a worship of the state, the monarchy and the state religion (with the monarch at the top) as the be all and end all, and this 'religion of the state' goes against the universal nature of Catholicism, for it is not under the umbrella of Christ's Church, hence its chaotic, greedy, relativist nature as it votes for what is right - from abortion to women vicaresses - without the fatherly guidance of the Popes and Tradition)

It is in being part of the universality of Holy Mother Church, with the care of souls within ones boundaries and in neighbouring nations too, that nations truly come into the fulfilment of their God-given right of being.

As for those who pooh-pooh the idea of nationhood, what else do they envision? A 'brotherhood of man' like the limp-wristed John Lennon tune 'Imagine'? Well sad for them (and Lennon) Heaven and Hell do exist, and so do nations. Besides which, we all know that the ideal of universal suffrage and the brotherhood of man all too often end in universal suffering and the brotherhood of the gulag.

At Fatima the three children were visited by the Guardian Angel of Portugal. Here we ourselves have our very own Patron Saint - Dewi Sant. Holy Mother Church has given our nation a patron Saint, surely Heaven itself has given us a Guardian Angel? Who are we, in our venal pride, to say that we know better than Heaven and its Church to pooh-pooh the very idea of nationhood?

Rather it is our duty in this life to ensure that nationhood is subservient to Catholicism, so that patriotism can flourish as something beautiful and natural, within the bedrock of Christendom (a dream that Saunders Lewis clung to).

Enthroning Christ the King as the ruler of a Welsh nation would surely bring us enhanced recognition throughout the world, and bring many Graces to a land that (if current political events in Scotland progress) could see itself with more national powers than it has enjoyed since its Medieval Princes asked the Popes for recognition of its parliament and universities.

So may I humbly ask the Welsh Bishops to think ahead and enthrone Christ the King - perhaps at some carefully chosen site - as the supernatural and social King of Wales?

What an example to set all the nations of Europe and the world! What Graces for our small nation! What recognition for us, and imagine those who would clamour for the same beautiful ceremony to be made in Spain, Poland, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, France, Croatia, Ireland, Argentina, The Gabon, The Philippines... and so on!
Saunders Lewis

So your Lordships - over to you.

In memory of the greatest Welsh Catholic theorist, writer and activist in the 20th Century, Dr Saunders Lewis. To give a path for a resurgent Wales to follow. To remind our countrymen of the rights of Christ the King in an age of moral relativism, chaos and lawlessness as seen in the riots last Summer just across the border.

Let us embrace a Catholic future for Wales, so that patriotism can again be as natural and normal as breathing, set in the universal bedrock that Holy Mother Church provides to all nations.

Monday, 26 December 2011

God's Beauty in a Snowflake

Does a snowflake prove the existence of God?

I have often thought the human eye does exactly that. How could a lump of mud "evolve" into a single celled organism? Let alone something as intricate and complicated as the human eye.

Never mind the missing link - how could an eyeball come into existence out of the blue? It just makes no sense at all. The optical nerve and the brain receptors, and the eye itself, all just "came about" hmmm? Or did the eye exist and only later get linked up to the brain?

The atheists like to think that Creation is some sort of cartoon sketch. Well, I can take an all-powerful God creating the intricacies of the human body and the world over the cartoon sketch of a lump of mud "miraculously" coming alive, then growing lungs, legs, a brain, eyes, ears and everything else.

Think about it logically. It just makes no sense.

Now onto the snowflake. if each and every snowflake is as individual as a finger print, does that prove the existence of God? Or surely nature on its own would have no need for such an extravagant gesture? Then again, why would humans have "evolved" individual finger-prints, which serve no "evolutionary" purpose, unless "millions of years ago" the missing links (which have never existed) knew Inspector Morse might need that final clincher in some episodes?

I do not believe in evolution. I believe species can change, whether it's people getting taller, or animals changing slightly (e.g. not growing a third eye etc.) this is commonly known as mutation. There is a world of difference in breeding dogs (for example) to create new breeds, or Moorish influence in Spain meaning modern Spaniards tend to be darker skinned, than the idea that lifeless ooze sprung into life on its own, became fish, mammals, monkeys then men.

I don't believe evolution can account for the finger-print or the human eyeball. As for the snow-flakes, well perhaps I'm just an old romantic, but I see the hand of God in everything in nature that is so beautiful!

Happy St Stephen's Day!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Nadolig Llawen: Christ the Child, Christ the King

A very Merry and Holy Christmas to all readers. Nadolig Llawen pawb.

I hope you have all had a wonderful time. With Mass, Christmas dinner and yes even pressies today has been wonderful. I do love Christmas, and the amazing fact of the Incarnation.

Today I was lucky enough to receive a wonderful present, a Pieta statue (pictured here) which came from Walsingham. It might seem strange at Christmas, but it is prescient indeed to recall, whilst we marvel at the birth of the Christ child and the all-consuming joy his Blessed Mother must have felt, that Our Lord was born to go through His Passion and His Mother would witness these awful events.

Our Lord's Incarnation brought joy to the world for those "men of goodwill" (who enjoy God's favour), but this would soon be followed by the massacre of the Holy Innocents, just as the entry into Jerusalem would be followed by the Crucifixion.

God's works of mercy are so often undermined by the machinations of evil men. Just as in this very day and age we have been given the means to peace and wellbeing via Holy Mother Church's guidance on Just War, the Common Good, Social Teaching, Morality and the Family -- yet evil men deliberately undermine all these means to establish peace on earth (under the Social Kingship of Christ) for their own greed.

We Catholics should pray - and act - to establish the Kingship of Christ in our own countries. Our Lord should not be shut up in our churches, nor reduced to visiting hours on Sundays.

I used to say that Hark the Herald Angels Sing was my favourite carol, but I've recently 'fallen head over heels' for O Holy Night. I think it encapsulates everything about Christmas, not least how we should adore, worship, glorify, love and get lost in the majesty and humility of the Christ child.

"Fall on your knees!" Indeed.

So here is a clip of the Scottish Catholic singer, Susan Boyle, singing this most wonderful carol:

Friday, 23 December 2011

Priest - Where is Thy Clerical Garb?

A fantastic post on Catholicism Pure and Simple:

One day a gentleman dressed smartly in a jacket, tie and pants was in the sacristy waiting for Padre Pio. When Padre Pio clapped eyes on this sophisticated man he said, ‘Father, you came in disguise, but you don’t have to be ashamed, next time come dressed as a priest.’
If our people saw priests, as priests, more often, it might jog their conscience and get them to make Confessions and return to Mass.

Btw - the above quote contains an Americanism. Pants means trousers. Not that the alternative would surprise me too much, especially in Soho...

Personally speaking I agree with CPandS (read the blog entry linked above), that men have as much of a duty as women - and I speak as a workingman and father who regularly wears working clothes, has a two-day stubble and regularly throws on jeans, a shirt and my DMs and think "that'll do".

All too often we see "men" in children's clothes and I especially detest clothing plastered in writing, especially if it includes barely disguised foul words.

It doesn't take much to polish one's shoes, but on a decent shirt and get to Mass.

I remember speaking to a priest many years ago when I was a little more than a bairn myself concerning a female friend (girlfriend of a best friend) who we were trying to get to "return" to Mass (her nan was a Catholic but there was little Faith in the family as far as I could tell).

I asked the priest if it would be OK to bring her to Mass because at the time she had a 'mohican' haircut, which would raise eyebrows on a man, let alone on a young lady, amidst mantilla wearing trad ladies. The priest replied "bring her to Mass, God will take care of the rest."

Why Does the Media Pander to the 20% Over the 70%?

In today's Daily Mail they say that roughly 70% of the UK's population are "Christian" and roughly 20% are "agnostic/atheist." I quote:
The Citizenship Survey showed that Christianity remains the faith of the great majority of the population. But its share dropped from 77 per cent to 70 per cent between 2005 and 2010. Over the same period the numbers who say they have no religion went up from 15 per cent to 21 per cent.

If this is the case may I ask why the atheists are always putting Christianity down, stopping Christian events, pumping out a huge proportion of anti-Christian programmes, holding sway on news and current affair programmes such as Newsnight, and so forth?

In essence we have a very vocal minority putting down the beliefs of the majority. Now when people do that against a minority, even in a sober, controlled way - e.g. against Judaism or Islam - there is uproar, often led by some of the secularist contingent who insist on defending "multi-culturalism.".

Yet Christianity is often attacked in the most shrill, blasphemous and obscene ways, discussions are often one-sided, and yet we are seen as "fair game."

It's high time the 70% asserted their rights (and the right of their Lord and God) over the minority who seem to think the media is at their beck and call.

It is the same people who try and undermine marriage at every twist and turn when every set of figures reveal that marriage is far better for society, children and couples (Melanie Philips made this point and wiped the floor with her feminist opponent, who had to affirm the figures detailed that marriage is best, on the Jeremy Vine Show earlier this week).

No doubt some atheist will pick holes in my argument. They are free to do so of course. I will counter that atheist states usually lead to organised mass murder (via gulags or abortuaries) and so it is my duty to stand up against their obscene hatred of God and man.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Moral Relativism: Have We All Gone Gaga?

In the latest issue of Private Eye there is a review of a new "book" (I use the term lightly) "by" (ditto) "Lady" (thrice ditto) Gaga. It can come across as a form of snobbishness, but I do often wonder who watches Eastenders, and on reading that Lady Gaga has brought out a book, I found myself wondering who would hand over ready cash for such turgid offerings?

Is this the generation that has no idea of history? That misspells its way to 'better than ever before' exam results only to take Media Studies at University, only to fail to get employment thereafter? I have dealt with people in my working life whose grasp of grammar and spelling leaves one wondering how they ever got the job in the first place. Teachers' assistants who cannot spell. History-related employees who know nothing of St Thomas More, Cromwell, Bonnie Prince Charlie, William of Orange or even Montgomery and Rommel's duel in the desert (or should that be dessert? A mere trifle!)

But let's return (like a dog to his vomit) to the servant of public decency, Lady Gaga. The reviewer of the book makes it plain that as with her public shows, her stage act and her music videos, the book is full of gratuitous semi-nudity. He says that the reader (with, one suspects more than a couple of brain cells) quickly gets bored of what he terms "Bum here, bum there, bum everywhere." The very gratuitous nature of the supposedly erotic photographs becomes tedious.

As ever I was drawn to the wise insight of GK Chesterton, for he wrote that in the topsy turvey world it is the traditionalist that is revolutionary. So proved Lady Gaga's book.

In an age when nudity, sex, promiscuity, etc. etc. are the staple fare of prime time TV and the daily newspapers, this stuff simply fails to shock anymore. The question is, where will society head. It seems to me we have three choices:
  1. More of the same.
  2. Return to sane values.
  3. Extreme nudity, pornography etc.
The first choice isn't an option really as society rarely stands still in this age of 24 hour rolling news and the constant need for something "new."

The second option is the truly revolutionary one and the one that will help heal society's wounds. Sink estates of single parent families where amorality reigns supreme are just one example of where sensible values could help (but where endless sums of money poured in by governments will achieve relatively little in comparison - as it deals with the symptoms, not the cause).

Worryingly we might say that option three is the more likely, as the modern media is run by people (including pink and rabidly atheist mafias) to whom the idea of morality, Christianity and the family are poison. And so we start to see ever more questionable and X-rated material appear on TV, from the plot-lines in (the soap opera) Eastenders, to the writhing soft-porn of the X Factor (singing competition) and I dread to think what Channels 4 and 5 are spewing out.

Chesterton, as ever, was right. Traditionalism is revolutionary because the porn, violence and swearing that litters the airwaves does fail to shock. It becomes boring. Why do the talking heads heap praise on TV shows that "push boundaries" (media-talk for promote homosexuality, drug taking and the like) yet when a popular grass-roots movement that promotes chastity until marriage comes along the usual suspects are lined up to heap bile and hatred on it, as if these people fighting the modern world are somehow assaulting them and their drug-addled "rights."

A friend of mine told me his theory on the reformation the other week. He said that Catholics who want to be more liberal, who want to "run their own lives" or who want to be free of the "restrictions" of marriage and so on, give succour to the 'reformers' and so undermine the Church and her dogmas. In his words, the first Protestants were bad Catholics. Maybe like Henry VIII they too wanted easier divorces.

Now I'm sure there were also those people who are just anti-Church, anti-Christ, anti-sanity who jump on any bandwagon too, but one only has to look at the modern world to see that as sexual norms crumble, as divorce grows, as re-married, step-children families and all the rest of it grow, the media (urged on by the pink and atheist mafias) urges these people to see the Church as "out-dated"

And so we have two realistic choices as a society. We can reject the chaos of moral relativism, of the post-family age, of the "do what thou wilt" generation, of the drugs, promiscuity and non-marriage media-led types. Or we can go further down that road which will lead to yet more crime and rioting, more rootless and "worthless" generations.

Some think David Cameron is playing to the stalls in calling for "British" Christianity and against moral relativism. Maybe he is. But it reminds me of the words of Pope Benedict in his recent visit to these isles. perhaps some of that has sunk in? Perhaps the recent riots acted us a 'wake-up call' to the Tory leader?

Lady Gaga has, like the singer Madonna before her, an Italian name, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. She studied at the Convent of the Sacred Heart.

This goes to show that this kind of degenerate anti-culture can infect our own families, our own communities, and that we can still churn out 'bad Catholics' today - who will go on to fuel the enemies of the Church and provide the cultural strike force of moral relativism.

Will there be a backlash against the amorality that rules the TV screen, the music charts, and infects our cities and towns on weekend evenings? Or will we all - Catholics included - churn out yet more fodder to erode away our Christian heritage and advance the cause of those intent on creating moral chaos?

It could be a time of great hope. It could also be a time of great fear.

Our Hope is in the Lord, Who made Heaven and Earth.

Friday, 9 December 2011

From Shakespeare to Blogging: Catholicism's the Key

I know, it's a bard cartoon! Groan.

As Shakespeare was a Catholic and had such an impact on the English language, not to mention culture and literature - it's time for us Catholics to (re)claim him as one of our own.

He lived in the time of recusant priests, torture, fines, property confiscations, and brutal judicial murder for Catholics, for remaining loyal to the Faith of our Fathers - the same Faith that Elizabeth I swore to uphold before walking at of her Coronation Mass as the Host was elevated.

Our lands, England, Wales Scotland and Ireland were nourished on Catholicism and "grew up" as Catholic nations. Shakespeare's Catholicism is a reminder of that basic fact and a link for all schoolchildren, actors and writers (even single-finger tappity-tapper occasional bloggers like me!) that our heritage is Catholicism and our strength, like the strength of our forefathers, is in the Sacraments, especially in the Real Presence of Our Lord on the Altars of these lands.

I suppose it's like the Parable of the Talents: Shakespeare used his many talents, and I hope I'm using my one and a half: which doesn't include grammar, erudition or soliloquies! ;-)

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Stephen Fry and the Creator of Mankind

Asimo robot on QI with Stephen Fry
I was listening to an episode of QI today, when Stephen Fry ("bless") gushed over the achievements of the computerised robot, Asimo.

Fry, a rabid atheist who seems to think that science is above God (because God doesn't exist of course), was close to tears in his lavish praise for the team who created Asimo. The great achievement of Asimo is that it can understand a few dozen greetings and instructions, that it can walk down steps, it can run and it can dance.

Funnily enough, as a (far from perfect) human being, I can do all those things and more. Even on a bad day (and it is a bad day if I'm dancing!) Yet I do not hear the secular saint Fry lavishing praise on my Creator. Nor even on the Creator of the creators of Asimo!

Isn't human pride a terrible thing?