Saturday, 31 May 2008

Human Life

A woman assaulted at a subway stop in New York City several years ago later recalled the image that will be etched in her mind forever. As she struggled against her assailant, she saw a man on a bench about 100 yards away wearing headphones and happily moving to the sound of a beat — utterly oblivious to the harm she was enduring.

This is one of those stories you hear and it touches you at quite a profound level. Imagine the helplessness of such an experience; being in such need of help, desperately crying out, and yet nobody being able to hear you.

Today, in our culture, we have things going on, which simply shouldn't be going on. Abortion levels are at an all time high.

Now imagine being in the situation of a crisis pregnancy. Imagine being gripped by fear because people might not approve of the pregnancy. Or that you might loose your job, partner, or even home because you are pregnant. These women and the unborn are crying out for help.

We have to ask if we ourselves are listening, are we responding to the needs of the people who really need us? Or do we simply speak and exist in a culture whereby we know and can understand people like us, but the language we use, the things we say and do don't really make a difference because again we're speaking to ourselves. At the same time, people are still going for abortions, babies are still dying and yet we still have our earphones on.

This blog isn't hear to offend anyone, it's to share the thoughts of someone struggling just like you, trying to live my life according to the Gospel and the teachings of the Church. Yet I believe that in order to fight for the unborn we will have to pay with our whole being, and that involves going out into the world and being amongst it, not standing on our offices calling for people to quit their jobs.

We're not trying to win an argument, we've won that already... We're trying to save human lives.

On their terms

As I have been reflecting these last few days, I've been thinking seriously about the future of the pro-life movement. Many people have responded to me giving me their opinions and I appreciate that. But I would like to explain my view further.

This picture, is the famous hand of God in the Sistine Chapel. It represents a moment, a moment in time yet one that resonates throughout time, one that speaks to us in all of time, in every age. It represents God touching man in the incarnation, when God met man on his own image and on his own terms.

God speaks to us not as some fleeting mystical sensation, but as a person; Jesus Christ. Jesus a Jew, a carpenter, a man of the people went out amongst His people the Jews and spoke as a Jew in the language they understood.

The pro-life movement speaks not only to Catholics, we speak to everyone because everyone because at the root of our message is the inherent dignity of Man and that applies to everyone. Because if we don't we've failed. We've failed those children in the womb, we've failed those women who need our help and we've failed our culture buy not having the gumption or the intelligence to realise that we need to start by not going for positions of power or by trying to be a senior member of the movement, but by working for human life out of Love.

The language we must use is one of Love; unlike the John Lennon's concept of love, our concept is a love which means sacrifice, a love which means the giving of oneself for another. I remember reading John Paul II's writings were he talked about the choice to love in which we take on the others destiny and share in their sadness, but also their joy. That's what we're doing in the pro-life movement, by making the choice to stand up for the unborn, for the women and men tormented by abortion, we're actually sharing in their lives, their destiny and their joy.

That is not a warm fuzzy love, that's true love and love should make us want to meet others on their terms, not simply to convince them that we're right, but to show them that them we are fighting for. Because in fighting for the unborn, the weak, the vulnerable and the oppressed, we're fighting for every single human being; for their dignity and their worth.

Friday, 30 May 2008

For the Sacred Heart

Since it's the Feast of the Sacred Heart I wanted to share this picture with you. I remember a retreat once where the priest said that 'the Mass is like entering the Sacred Heart of Jesus Himself.' I've always held onto that statement, it's brought me both consolation and hope, whilst helping me appreciate that Mass is not just a meal, it's not a community gathering, it's not a lovely event. The mass is a meeting point for heaven and earth to come together and a gathering of the Holy Church to be present again at Calvary, when Jesus gave Himself up to the will of the Father so that we might have life.

Cultivating a friendship with Jesus Christ

Recently I've been a bit up & down; One minute I'm fine and then I feel as though God has become nothing more than a distant memory. Indeed a friend and I last night were discussing how it would be so easy to go and just live our lives like everyone else does. Just go out, do whatever we want and do all the things that the Church tells us we're not supposed too.

It's interesting really... We think of the Church as a institution rather than as a home, a family, a community of people dedicated to Jesus Christ. But we also forget that the Church isn't some parent wagging Her finger at us, she's the bride of Christ who embodies The Way, Truth & Life of Her spouse. In truth maybe our concept of the Church is sometimes the thing that hinders our discovery of truth and that also means our discovery and friendship with Jesus Christ.

The Pope has said this month that his prayer intention for June will be:

"That all Christians may cultivate a deep and personal friendship with Christ, in order to be able to communicate the strength of His love to every person they meet".

I think the most important thing that the Pope tells us here is that we cannot communicate our faith, unless we ourselves are in union with God himself... It might seem obvious, but I know it's something I and maybe others can forget.


May I ask you all to Pray for the repose of the soul of Andrea Kearney who passed away on Wednesday the 28th of May. She was 41 and the wife of one the most hard working men I know Peter Kearney, who is also the director of the Catholic Media Office in Scotland.

Andrea has a long battle with Cancer and leaves behind Peter and their five children, whom in their own words "are unable to comprehend their loss".

Eternal Rest Grant unto her O lord and Let perpetual light shine upon her.

Requiscat in Pace

Lessons we can Learn from Wilberforce

Lessons We Can Learn From Wilberforce (originally appeared in 'The Triple Helix, Journal of the Christian Medical Fellowship)

David Alton

William Wilberforce was elected in Hull as the youngest member of the House of Commons. The year was 1780 and over the 53 years that would follow, Wilberforce became the principal spokesman against slavery.

On February 22nd 1807 the House of Commons voted for the abolition of the slave trade and May 1st 2007 marks the bicentenary of its enactment. It would take until the night before Wilberforce’s death, in 1833, - for Parliament to enact the final emancipation measures – including the paying off of the slave owners. Wilberforce said that he “thanked God” that “I have lived to witness the day on which England is willing to give 20 million pounds sterling for the abolition of slavery.”

What can our generation learn from this remarkable life? What might we elucidate from his patient endurance, and perseverance, his methods, his strategy, his tactics?

And what dragons are waiting to be slain today?

In trying to understand Wilberforce’s motivation, it stands out that he never held high political office but I doubt that he entered politics devoid of ambition.

At Cambridge he was already marked out for a successful political career. He and Pitt the Younger formed an enduring friendship and many believed that it was Wilberforce, rather than Pitt, who was destined to lead the nation.

This decision to eschew the usual ministerial career path and to use his parliamentary position instead to champion a great cause teaches us a lot.

In assessing today’s aspiring politicians we might usefully ask ourselves the simple question: “what are their causes?” If their sole purpose is simply to climb the greasy pole - to be things rather than to do things – it probably tells you everything you need to know.

Wilberforce had a passion to do things. He had a single-minded determination and zeal.

Yet, it remains the case that it was politics which initially attracted him – not the abolition of slavery.

Aristotle, the father of democracy, reminds us that the call to political service is among the greatest virtues and that shame – aidos – attaches to those who simply opt out. What would Wilberforce have made of those who self-righteously assert their cynical disregard for the political classes, and opt out of communal responsibilities?

Wilberforce brought to political life a good education. He was articulate, well-informed, compassionate, and a man of deep integrity – but, no doubt, so were many of his contemporaries.

What marked him out and changed his destiny was his decision to embrace Christianity. It redefined how he saw humanity - the imago Dei - in all men; how he perceived political service.

His conversion post-dated his entry in to Parliament. It orientated all his subsequent actions. Cardinal John Henry Newman said that God appoints a task for each of us, given to no-one else. We each need to find what that task is and never lose sight of it.

For Wilberforce, the task became clear seven years after he entered the Commons and despite set-backs and defeats he never gave up.

After a deeply affecting encounter in 1787 with the Quaker abolitionist, Thomas Clarkson, Wilberforce knew he had found his appointed task. He wrote in his diary:

“God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the Reformation of society.”

How Wilberforce translated this spiritual insight into practical action is instructive.

With Clarkson, Newton, Equanio, Wedgwood, Roscoe, and many others, he formed a broad-based alliance which sought to change public attitudes as well as parliamentary opinion. He knew that if he did not do the former he would not achieve the latter.

Adam Hochschild, the author of “Bury The Chains”, brilliantly sets out the details of the campaign which was waged throughout the UK. Abolition was not a single-handed feat achieved by William Wilberforce alone – and those who neglect the role of the campaign coalition miss a crucially important point.

Nor did Wilberforce believe that he could succeed through his own strength. He knew that there was a spiritual dimension.

A notable member of the so-called “Clapham Sect” – Christians who met at the Clapham home of Henry Thornton - he offered regular prayer. The Clapham Christians understood the importance of St.Augustine’s maxim to “pray as if the entire outcome depends upon God and work as if the entire outcome depends upon you.” Wilberforce never neglected to do both.

One of his detractors – and there were many – was William Hazlitt. That scion of radical endeavour accused Wilberforce of being obsessed with misery in far away places. Thornton defended his friend, stating that it was like attacking Christopher Columbus for discovering America but for failing to go on to discover Australia and New Zealand as well.

The moral: success in politics is governed by an abiding sense of what matters - by priorities, not being distracted by every daily dust fight; not being deflated or deterred by personal attacks.

Incidentally, it was not Hazlitt, but Shaftesbury, who then proceeded to reform the social squalor of England. His Factory Act was enacted just one day after the Abolition of Slavery received its Royal Assent on August 28th 1833.

The religious mood of England – not secularism – became the determining factor in shaping much of our social progress.

And what of the dragons which remain to be slain today?

2007 is the year of another anniversary. It took Wilberforce 40 years to abolish slavery. This is the fortieth anniversary of the Abortion Act – but there is no prospect of its imminent repeal.

Nearly 6 million unborn babies have been aborted in the UK in the past 40 years, 1 million human embryos have been destroyed or experimented upon, laws which permit abortion up to birth on babies with disabilities and laws which permit “therapeutic cloning” have all been enacted. Attempts continue to be made to legalise euthanasia.

In addition, Britain indirectly funds the coercive one-child policy in China – which recently led to the blind barefoot lawyer, Chen Guangchen, being given a four year prison sentence for exposing the forced abortion or sterilisation of 130,00 women in the Shandong Province. We should be deeply ashamed that it takes a man with no sight to see so clearly what we choose to ignore.

Two hundred years ago Wilberforce won his argument because men like Captain John Newton - a leading Liverpool slave trader, and composer of Amazing Grace - changed his mind. We, too, need to change many minds. And doctors are in a unique position to help create a mentality which appreciates the unique sanctity of every life.

Like Newton, one of the world's leading abortionists, Dr.Bernard Nathanson, changed his mind about the "right to choose" to end the life of an unborn child. Google have made available Nathanson's story ( We should invite others in the profession and in wider society to do the same as Nathanson.

And what of other evils?

Perhaps as many as 27 million people continue to be enslaved today. The International Labour Organisation estimates that 8.4 million children, approximately one child out of every 175 in the world are held in slavery.

In addition to gross exploitation, it is said that around 700,000 people are trafficked every year – generating billions of pounds worldwide.

Modern day forms of slavery – based on discrimination because of racial origin, forced labour, child labour trafficking and debt bondage – all underpin the economic and trade relationships from which we and many others continue to benefit. Perhaps compared with 1807, slavery tip-toes in carpet slippers but it remains a pernicious and all-too-real contemporary reality.

I chair the Parliamentary Committee on North Korea – and am Secretary of the Committee on the Sudan.

My visits to Southern Sudan and Darfur have left me in no doubt about the degraded view of humanity held by the regime in Khartoum – who continue to permit the sale as slaves of men, women and children.

Equally, in countries like Burma and North Korea, people are treated as sub-human.

Leaving North Korea without permission is a criminal offence that can carry the death penalty so deportation carries very serious consequences. Most of those deported spend between one and three months in a prison labour camp where they will be malnourished, live in unsanitary conditions and be subjected to forced labour. There are testimonies of beatings, torture, degrading treatment, and even forced abortions and infanticide from those who have escaped.

The workday in a prison labour camp begins at five in the morning and ends at seven or eight in the evening. Pregnant, elderly and sick women are not exempt from work. Types of labour include collecting heavy logs and brick-making. Meals consist of a meagre quantity of corn and soup.

In these gulags there are a high number of deaths, resulting from hard labour coupled with a below-subsistence diet and unhygienic living conditions. In the absence of medical care, prisoners who are sick or injured are often released early to prevent them from dying while in custody, thus, removing the administrative burden of processing a death.

However you choose to define it, this is slavery.

So, in 2007, there is no shortage of contemporary dragons to be slain: and there are some singular campaigners – like the redoubtable Baroness (Caroline) Cox. But we must hope and pray that out there somewhere are some next generation men and women who will search for their appointed task and rekindle the spirit of William Wilberforce.

Lord Alton of Liverpool has been a Crossbench Peer for the past 10 years. For the previous 18 years he served as a Liverpool MP. A national patron of LIFE and Right To Life, he is a founder of Jubilee Campaign, Professor of Citizenship at Liverpool John Moores University, a Fellow of St. Andrews University and author of 10 books.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

A Risk or Opportunity? Cardinal Explains Dialogue

Is interreligious dialogue a risk or an opportunity? It's both, said the president of the pontifical council dedicated to overseeing it.

*Mad Trad Comment* Thank God we have a Cardianl acknowledging the need for true dialogue which involves talking about what seperates us... As the Pope said at Regensburg it's important we see our persue truth, not only that which we consider to be our own truth. Like in the context of the university for example; that all faculties chemistry, theology, medicine, engineering are all dedicated to their subjects, but in a deeper way connected to each other in their universal search for truth (universalis i.e. where university comes from).*Mad Trad Comment*

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, spoke Tuesday at the University of London's Heythrop College about the many facets of dialogue.

His address began with a historical look at the role of religion in society, noting the 18th-century tendency to separate reason and faith.

He proposed that God -- dismissed in recent centuries -- "is reappearing in public discourse today. News stands are full of books and magazines on religious subjects, esotericism and the new religions. 'The revenge of God' has been spoken of."

Cardinal Tauran acknowledged that many are frightened by dialogue.

"I answer that we should not fear religions: They generally preach brotherhood! It is their followers of whom we should be afraid. It is they who can pervert religion by putting it at the service of evil designs,".

The pontifical council president proposed a recipe for dialoguing: "It is necessary to have a clear-cut spiritual identity: to know in whom and in what one believes; consider the other not as a rival, but as a seeker of God; to agree to speak of what separates us and of the values that unite us."

He proposed the case of Islam:

"What separates us cannot be camouflaged: the relationship with our respective Scriptures: for a Muslim the Quran is a 'supernatural dictation' recorded by the prophet of Islam, while for a Christian, revelation is not a book, but a person; the person of Jesus, whom Muslims consider to be only an exceptional prophet; the dogma of the Trinity which leads Muslims to say that we are polytheists.

"But there are also realities which see us united and sometimes even collaborating in the dissemination of the same cause: faith in the oneness of God, the author of life and of the material world; the sacred character of the human person which has permitted, for example, collaboration of the Holy See and of Muslim countries with the United Nations Organization to prevent resolutions that damage families; vigilance to avoid symbols considered 'sacred' from being made the object of public derision."

Cardinal Tauran then indicated areas where Muslims and Christians can collaborate in promoting the common good. He mentioned as an example the defense of the sacredness of human life before the United Nations.

To conclude his address, the prelate said:

"If I may say so, believers are prophets of hope. They do not believe in fate. They know that -- gifted by God with a heart and intelligence -- they can, with his help, change the course of history in order to orientate their life according to the project of the Creator: that is to say, make of humanity an authentic family of which each one of us is a member."

Every Catholic should Evangelize

Interesting from Zenit & I think important to note is one of the spiritual teachings of Opus Dei and which influenced the Second Vatican Council was this whole idea of the universal call to Holiness - we are all called to become great saints. See article here

"The quest for the good of our peoples in all its secular dimensions, and the transformation of the structures of society so that they will be favorable to life, is a task that implies an option for the specific mission of the lay faithful in the midst of temporal realities, a responsible and active presence in the new and old Areopagi, in the cities and countryside, in the peripheries and in the centers of decision-making,"

Just a thought, I wonder as our lives are a liturgy in praise and honour of God, if full and active participation in the liturgy should be understood in this sense, rather than everyone having 'a job' to do at Mass.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Novena Day 2

I hope you're all joining in the Novena of prayer, here is the 'special' prayer for day 2.

O dear little Saint, now that you see the crucified Jesus in heaven, still bearing the wounds caused by sin, you know still more clearly than you did upon earth the value of souls, and the priceless worth of that Precious Blood which He shed to save them. As I am one of those children for whom Christ died, obtain for me all the graces I need in order to profit by that Precious Blood. Use your great power with our divine Lord and pray for me.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day:

Sin. The only grace I ask, O Jesus, is never to offend Thee.

By love and not by fear, does a soul avoid committing the least fault.

Yes, even if I have on my conscience every possible crime, I should lose none of my confidence; my heart breaking with sorrow, I should go and throw myself into the arms of my Savior.

The remembrance of my faults humbles me and makes me afraid to rely on my own strength, which is nothing but weakness.

Speaking to Ourselves

Over the last few days I've been reading Raymond Arroyo's Biography of Mother Angelica. For all his American piety and strange appearance, he's not a bad bloke. I like his Italian Catholicism and I enjoy his strange anecdotes. The book in itself is excellent and what I like most is that it unlocks a previously untold spirituality of Mother Angelica - a women who made me fall out of bed one night because she was so funny. Now that's an accomplishment, a cloistered nun making men fall out of bed, you have to hand it to the old girl.

She basically was talking about baptism and started waving her fist shouting 'I bet all you liberals will be going blaaaaaaaaaaaaaa... Well blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa right back at ya'. It was awesome - I should also mention she was in full roman habbit complete with an eye patch. Possibly one of the funniest things I've ever seen!

In the book, Mother talks about her life, her trials, tribulations and her relationship with God. I hope to share more with you soon, but for now I wanted to share this little quote which I think is a big problem and a hindrance in the modern church and hindrance to the new evangelization.

"If you're close to Jesus in your daily life, you can explain Jesus in a very simple way because your attuned to the living Jesus, the living Gospel. Jesus spoke the language of the people - you could understand; children could understand. Too often, we in the Church talk to ourselves."

That is a 'Key' point for us to think about, it's also totally relevant to the pro-life movement too.

One the aims of this blog is to communicate the faith in a direct way to you, to discuss it and to get something (even in a small way) from it. But it's also meant for those who are thinking about Christ, about who He is and the life He demands and the truth He proclaims.

It's worth remembering that the mission of the Church is about saving souls, we have a duty as members of the Church to participate in the Church's mission in a serious way. It's our duty to propose Jesus Christ to the world and to focus less on speaking to ourselves.

Seeking Meaning & Making Sense

Thanks to Holdingontoahoyos1962 for this...

This is a new book by Prof John Haldane who is one of the finest minds in the Church today. This book apparently explores what it means to be a human today. Haldane, in my own experience does not get confused in Philosophical language and idea's unrelated to our everyday life; he relates to the person on the street living and struggeling and wondering what the purpose of life is itself. It should be well worth a read.

Published by Societas, RRP £8.95.

"Professor Haldane's essays are serious in the way that the great writers of the Scottish Enlightenment were serious. He asks what it means to be human in the twenty-first century, and what ethical obligations our idea of humanity imposes on us. They are provocative in the best, and only useful, sense of the word: inviting the reader to consider and respond to his arguments. Their range is wide, extending from a disquisition on the morality of stem-cell research to a very funny parody of "The Da Vinci Code".
Alan Massie, author The Thistle and the Rose, columnist Spectator, etc.

"This volume provides further evidence that John Haldane is our finest contemporary philosophical journalist. No other recent figure has written as elegantly or as insightfully about the contemporary landscape of ethics, religion and the post-modern search for meaning. And surely no one other than Professor Haldane could use such materials as the Toy Story films and the British pantomime to gently instruct us about such weighty matters as Pope Gregory the Great's revolutionary teaching on religion and representational art."
David Solomon Director, Center for Ethics and Culture, University of Notre Dame.

John Haldane is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs in the University of St Andrews. He has also held the Royden Davis Chair in Humanities at Georgetown University and has been Stanton Lecturer at the University of Cambridge and Gifford Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen. He is a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Culture. His other publications include Atheism and Theism, with JJC Smart (Blackwell), An Intelligent Persons Guide to Religion (Duckworth), Faithful Reason and Reasonable Faith (Routledge) and The Church and the World (Gracewing)..

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Prayers Needed

The last week or so has been a fairly difficult one; confusion seems to follow confusion, and I've had to do a lot of soul searching... As Fr Tim joked to me on facebook, if we go too far into ourselves, what we could find might be quite dangerous.

I'm going to start a Novena today, if you would like to join in, please do. You can follow the Novena Here.

I'm going to be offering this novena for a few personal intentions, but I want to especially offer it for guidance of the pro-life movement just now. We are in a crucial time in the history of the movement in this country and I'm afraid if we don't do something quickly, we're going to collapse in on ourselves.

What we have to remember is that we are fighting for Human Life, not only for their lives, but for the meaning of Human Life itself, for the dignity of human life and for the protection of that life from conception to it's natural end. We are not fighting for high places in the Church or society or for personal reputation... We are not fighting because we want to go down in history as great people, and great saints. We are fighting because we want to uphold the sanctity of all human life and through a deep conviction that we cant stand by why our brothers and sisters are sacrificed because of a distorted notion that 'choice' is the highest value of a free and civilised society.

So as the month of May draws to a close, I think it's appropriate we begin this in honour of Our Lady, the Mother of God.

Remember O most Gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to Thy protection, implored thine help or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence I fly unto thee, O Virgin, of Virgins my mother. To Thee I come, before Thee I stand sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions, but hear and answer me, Amen

Silent Suffering of the Unborn

A new book called Neonatal Pain: Suffering, Pain and the Risk of Brain Damage in the Fetus and Unborn" (Springer) is edited by Giuseppe Buonocore and Carlo Bellieni, who are both members of the department of pediatrics, obstetrics and reproductive medicine at the University of Siena.

The contributions from the large number of experts who contribute to the book agree in affirming that a fetus can feel pain before birth, the two editors explain in their introductory essay. "Recognizing human dignity and human suffering from life in the womb is a clinical duty in the service of better treatment,".

Full review can be found Here at Zenit.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Mad Trad & The Vatican

Well it looks as if Mad Trad has made it into the walls of the Vatican. Sitemeter shows a few visits in the last few days. Oooooooooooh ;o)

St. Philip Neri

I got the following from Universalis today; not only did it move me to tears, but it also made me laugh. There are many things we can take from this, especially the whole thing about hero worship. It's very common to put our faith in priests, people in power and not God himself.

When I was a seminarian, I remember walking into rooms at times and simply because I was training to be a priest, the room would center upon me. I have to confess that at the time I loved it... And then when I left, people looked on with such dissapointment, although they don't mean too. Then those who seemed to be your friends leave, because you're no longer what they knew you as, and it turns they didn't know you at all. It was then I knew I had a real problem with humility, so keep praying for me for that grace to be humble, but keep your worship for God and God alone. As the mid morning reading goes...

Be consecrated to me, because I, the Lord, am holy, and I will set you apart from all these peoples so that you may be mine.
Leviticus 20:26

Another thing I took from this was that we should be a force of joy radiating in the world and throughout it. Yes, be joyful because we are sinners redeemed by our loving saviour Jesus Christ.

Take courage, my children, call on God: he will deliver you from tyranny, from the hands of your enemies; for I look to the Eternal for your rescue, and joy has come to me from the Holy One at the mercy soon to reach you from your saviour, the Eternal.
Baruch 4:21-22

He was born in Florence in 1515. At the age of eighteen he went to Rome, and earned his living as a tutor. He undertook much-needed charitable work among the young men of the city, and started a brotherhood to help the sick poor and pilgrims.

He was advised that he could do more good as a priest, and was ordained in 1551. He built an oratory over the church of San Girolamo, where he invented services, consisting of spiritual readings and hymns, which were the origin of the oratorio (tradition is a good thing; but innovation also has its place). He continued to serve the young men of Rome, rich and poor alike, with religious discussions and by organising charitable enterprises. He had a particular care for the young students at the English College in Rome, studying for a missionary life and probable martyrdom in England.

He inspired other clergy to emulate him, and formed them into the Congregation of the Oratory. Oratorian foundations still flourish in many countries today. He died in Rome in 1595.

St Philip Neri was an enemy of solemnity and conventionality. When some of his more pompous penitents made their confession to him (he was famous as a confessor) he imposed salutary and deflating penances on them, such as walking through the streets of Rome carrying his cat (he was very fond of cats). When a novice showed signs of excessive seriousness, Philip stood on his head in front of him, to make him laugh. When people looked up to him too much, he did something ridiculous so that they should not respect someone who was no wiser – and no less sinful – than they were. In every case there was an excellent point to his pranks: to combat pride, or melancholy, or hero-worship.

Laughter is not much heard in churches: perhaps that is to be expected... but outside church, Christians should laugh more than anyone else – laugh from sheer joy, that God bothered to make us, and that he continues to love us despite the idiots we are. Everyone is a sinner, but Christians are sinners redeemed – an undeserved rescue that we make even less deserved by everything we do. It is too serious a matter to be serious about: all we can reasonably do is rejoice.

Very many of the saints, not just St Philip, have an abiding terror of being looked up to. For they know their imperfections better than anyone else, and being revered by other people is doubly bad. It is bad for the others, who should be revering God instead, and for themselves, because they might be tempted to believe their own image and believe themselves to be worthy.

We are not saints yet, but we, too, should beware. Uprightness and virtue do have their rewards, in self-respect and in respect from others, and it is easy to find ourselves aiming for the result rather than the cause. Let us aim for joy, rather than respectability. Let us make fools of ourselves from time to time, and thus see ourselves, for a moment, as the all-wise God sees us.

St. Philip Neri - Ora Pro Nobis

Kneeling for Communion

I got this over at Fr Tim's blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity.

This is excellent news that these musings are now happening in the Vatican and a real sign of hope for the future. Yet I want to say one thing and one thing only. Just because we start kneeling, it wont mean we are converted... These practices if introduced should start a renewal of orthodox catechisis in our country which is badly needed. Just because something looks nice, doesn't make it holy.

(AGI) – Vatican City, 22 May – Benedict XVI gave communion this evening to the faithful who knelt in front of him, following the tradition, that is, not giving the consecrated particles into the hands but putting them directly into the mouth. Both ways are allowed in the present liturgical norms but this way underlines more greatly the meaning of the Eucharist as the renewed sacrifice of Jesus, while the other is more in line with the protestant conception which emphasises more the dimension of the meal.

The Church of Papa Ratzinger is worried about the lack of respect for the Eucharist, evident from the ever increasing number of liturgical abuses which are committed in the course of celebrations. Recently, L’Osservatore Romano dedicated a whole page to this problem, giving space to a study of the theologian Inos Biffi, who denounced a crisis of faith in the mystery of “transubstantiation” that is, of the real presence of Christ in the consecrated host, as the cause of this phenomenon.

In an interview with “”, Mgr Albert Malcolm Ranjith, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, condemned the “inexplicable extravagances” committed by some priests in the liturgy, emphasising that it is “not their property but that of the Church”. “The Mass”, he affirmed, “is not a spectacle, but sacrifice, gift and mystery.” Regarding communion in the hand: “ I just believe” affirmed the Archbishop, “that it is necessary to review this practice: I speak personally, but I am convinced of the urgency of returning to giving the particle to the faithful directly into the mouth, without them touching it, emphasising in this way that in the Eucharist there is really Jesus and that all should welcome him with devotion, love, and respect.”

For Mgr Ranjith, further, “It would be a case also of returning to kneeling at the moment in which one communicates” as “an act of respect towards the gift and the mystery of the Eucharist.” “Beyond the role which I have in the Vatican, as a catholic” he concluded, “I ask and question: why be embarrassed by God? Kneeling at the moment of communion would be an act of humility and of recognition of our nature as sons of God.”

The Future

Since my post on John Smeaton and Division there has been a lot of comment. I would like to draw your attention to this artcle over at Holy Smoke which was originally published in Octover 2007.

I'd like you to consider this carefully. If we do not consider the future of the pro-life movement, we might as well shake the hands of those who support abortion and say go on, keep going, keeping killing babies, keep destroying womens lives. We need to get real here; the government are not going to make abortion illegal anytime soon.

Interestingly in the debate about the purpose and use for the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life group, I wonder how many people actually know what goes on at those meetings; certainly not SPUC as they do not attend those meetings itself 'out of principle'.

If anyone has seen the film 'Karol - the man who became Pope' which is the story of John Paul II recalls a young bishop, just appointed, who sees the need for a seminary for the many vocations that were springing up. The stance of the Polish Church was 'we do not negotiate with the communist party'. And the communist party did not want to allow men to train for the priesthood. The young Bishop Wojtyla met with the party and got his seminary. It took longer to get rid of communism, but they did it in the end, only by changing the culture, only by engaging in a cultural debate, only by the grace of God. Maybe a little story for the pro-life movement too.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Sunday Smile

I wonder if this is what the Holy Father meant by a mixture of the old and the new!!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Looking for truth!

I was watching EWTN's journey home on the internet this evening and being honest I was a little bit bored; I like the journey home but sometimes I get the impression they try and paint the Church as a great utopia which is all smiles. Personally that's not been my experience of the Church and I think anyone being honest would admit that fact in their own lives too.

What interested me though was a statement made by the guest on the show this evening, who converted from Jehovah Witnesses, through Evangelical protestantism, and eventually came home to Rome i.e. became a Catholic (or a pape as Scottish people would say). He said:

'I'm concerned about converts, because so often (and something catholics are guilty of too) we are looking for what is wrong, whereas we should be continually searching for the truth'.

That is a very profound thing to say... I remember as a seminarian I was a bit of a human heresy detector, bashing anyone over the head with the catechism or the latest document from the Vatican when I was challenged on an article of faith.

How many blogs are a little bit obsessed with this today? How many faithful are strong and have a wonderful relationship with God, yet maybe push the faith down peoples throats which might make us feel better about our own zealousness and fidelity to the Gospel, but which actually make other people think we are mad and turn them away from Christ rather than towards Him.

All truth is a reflection of Jesus Christ, because He is the truth, not 'a' truth, but 'thee' truth. Maybe a reason why the Church is failing in this country just now, is because we're now at logger heads with the culture, rather than engaging in the culture.

I've had this conversation a hundred times with friends and I generally get opposition to my view is that we cant just forget the people who are in our lives, who are not Christians and living outside the Church. One recent example is when a friend was going to go to a retreat, yet was going to miss an important occasion with his friend. I told him that fair enough, maybe you want to go on a retreat, but what is the loving thing to do for your friend? In the end we agreed to disagree, but do you see what I mean?

Sometimes it's the people in the Pub who need us more than the nuns in the retreat house. That's not to say go out and get drunk and never go on retreat... That is to say don't forget your bread and butter, and if Christ is truly the centre of your lives, and when you are looking outwardly, genuinely thinking about how we can save souls, then I don't these issues really become problematic. When we are living according to the Gospel and in union with God, then we understand that calling of all Christians, go out and make disciples amongst all people.

Interestingly enough St. Ignatius when he was studying found within him a great desire to pray all the time. Eventually he realised that this itself was a temptation, because he knew if He always just simply prayed, he could never pass his exams which is necessary if he wanted to be ordained to the priesthood. (I wish I had temptations like that). I think sometimes we fail to see our zealousness and gradual slipping out of the world as a bit of a temptation, it seems as if we are holy, when actually we are neglecting those who truly need us. Again it's important to pray, but our lives should be a prayer, as well when we are on our knees.

If we come to know Jesus, we come to know the truth and error will present itself - you don't really need to look for it, the devil (and believe me I know) will make sure of that. We need to continually remain open to the truth in order to be truly faithful Christ and His Church

Friday, 23 May 2008

For anyone wishing to know their faith...

... either read the catechism or log onto the new CTS Website!

This has been up for a while now, but I remember in my long road home to the faith, I found the little CTS books really helpful whenever I had a question which a lot of priests gave me inadequete answers especially with regards to answers on contraception and sex before marriage.

One book I can reccomend is The Fathers of the Church, which is a fantastic book.

This will take you through the weekly audiences with the Pope as he explores the fathers of the Church and talks about their faith and what they contain for us today.

An interesting note is this book is great for people trying to understand the Church, but also for protestants who are interested and who think they are being lead back to Rome.


Standing on my head!

Fr Dwight has an excellent blog which I'm sure many of you know called Standing On My Head. In a post about Politics, Sentimentality and Utilitarianism, Fr makes the point of how the pro-life movement relied to much on the Political, Sentimental and Utilitarian argugments when discussing the HFE Bill.

One of the things I like about this stance is that he doesn't negate God in the process of debate, making the point that 'Every argument is a theological one, yet instead focuses in on the language we use is important. Well worth a read.

P.S. The caption to this picture on his blog is 'Speak softly, but carry a big stick'. I like this!!

The Eucharist and Revolution

As ever, Pope Benedict XVI hits the nail on the head. I think these words are timely especially given the present attitudes of the culture.

The following from Zenit describes the Corpus Christi liturgy, I had a look at some of the photo's on felici... Totally awesome.

The Eucharist has brought a social revolution, he affirmed, since believers gather before it, leaving aside differences in economic or social class, political convictions, sex and even preferences.

His listeners were living proof of his words: The congregation included Missionaries of Charity, boy scouts, cardinals, Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, pilgrims from around the world, and even some homeless people curious about the celebration.

Meditating on the Eucharistic mystery, the Holy Father cited the phrase from St. Paul: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Truth and strength

"In these words," said the Pontiff, "is perceived the truth and the strength of the Christian revolution, the deepest revolution of human history, which is experienced precisely gathered around the Eucharist. Here people of different ages, sex, social condition and political ideas gather."

"The Eucharist can never be a private event, reserved to people chosen on the basis of affinity or friendship," he added. "The Eucharist is a public worship that has nothing of esotericism or exclusivity.

"We have not decided with whom we want to gather; we have come and found ourselves together with each other, gathered by faith and called to become one body, sharing the only Bread that is Christ.

"We are united beyond our differences of nationality, profession, social class, political ideas: We open ourselves to each other to become one in him."

In fact, Benedict XVI affirmed, "from the beginning, this has been the characteristic of Christianity, visibly fulfilled around the Eucharist. And it is necessary to keep watch always so that the temptations of particularism, even if with good intentions, do not head in the opposite direction."

The feast of Corpus Christi, he concluded, "reminds us above all: To be Christians means to come together from all parts to be in the presence of the only Lord and to be one in him and with him."

A long and winding road

First it was in the house of commons...

Then it was on Question time

Then Dianne Abott on This Week who said the abortion vote was a sign of the forces of light winning in the world

Make no mistake, we have a long way to go and a lot to apologise for. This is a real opportunity in the pro-life movement to change and to think about who we are working for... The unborn, the vulnerable and the women and men who's lives are destroyed by abortion every, single, year.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

John Smeaton and Division

I'm slightly mad at the moment. The pro-life movement has taken a bit of a battering these last few days. We were defeated by a large majority on every single amendment we tried to put through.

Many organisations tried to oppose the bill itself, but we all knew it was going to go through... To deny that fact is both idiotic and unrealistic. So many of the pro-life (excluding SPUC) joined forces to try and unite, put differences to one side and to try and put forward positive legislation that would have been a major step forward and a significant shift in our culture with regards to how we value human life.

Now, as we turn back to reflect and to ask ourselves how to move forward, we see the SPUC director making some outrageous statements which reflect his somewhat exclusive attitude to anyone with a badly formed conscience.

Today in lifesite see article here John Smeaton has asked Mrs Claire Curtis-Thomas MP to stand down from the all party parliamentary pro-life group because she supports a woman's right to choose, yet she wants the abortion limit to be 12 weeks, rather than the current limit which is 24.

Let's look at this for a moment. A labour MP, with no real protection or political allies, stands up and talks about how she feels uneasy about abortion... That's brave. Yes, she is wrong and possibly a sign like a lot of our culture of having a badly formed conscience and looking at life as simply as an aesthetic reality rather than anything else. But she does care and she is prepared to say that. We need to love this woman and help her, not cast her out simply because she doesn't follow the catholic faith. REALITY CHECK - HARDLY ANYONE IS A CATHOLIC IN THE UK

The fact is, a reduction in the time limit to 12 weeks would have saved lives. It would have also signalled a certain 'uneasy' feeling about abortion in our country. Of course I do not accept women have the right to choose, but the only way we will win this war is to actually play the politicians at their own game. To accept minor changes when the opportunity comes our way is a cause for celebration, and a chance for the pro-life movement to unite with one voice and one heart. Yet Smeaton seems keen to abilterate any positive movement, whilst his political officer tries to wind others up by saying we are political mugs for trying to force a change in our country.

My response to both men are that those people whom you criticise have done more in this country over the last 40 years to try and make a difference, a small difference, but a positive one. Absolutism in politics is not possible in anyway, shape or form and that is a consqeunce of democracy, of a free society. To change the law on abortion, we will need to accept gradual change, but also as pro-life people dedicated to saving lives, we need to unite and stop bickering and causing even more division. It's a little sick really that people see the need to act triumphant at a time when our country heads down the road of a culture of death.

As a Catholic, I see it is my duty to love, love and to love even more. Maybe the problem in our faith at the moment is we love only ourselves and that we fail to see the need to show the truth of what we proclaim in truly loving way which involves being honest and obiediant to the truth; but it also involves working with others who do not believe what we believe... Shoving the faith down other peoples throats will get us nowhere fast. We need to plant the seeds and help them grow. Frankly I see John Smeatons comments as both sad and a reflection upon the current way the pro-life movement works at the moment... It's divided, it's cenetered on personality and it doesn't address the current needs of men and women in the 21st centuary.

There needs to be a change and it needs to happen now, because we see our crumbling ship sink, maybe it's time to think about how we are going to re-build, and we can do that together.

I should add that these comments are not directed at those many wonderful, faithful people who work and support SPUC, I am simply expressing my own thoughts upon how we need to move forward and to start a debate on how we can bring about the civilisation of love called for by Pope John Paul II.

Chartres 2008

I got these pics over at Andrew Cusacks blog. I am hoping to go to Chartres next year, unfortunately time, money and personal circumstances did not permit this year. Enjoy!

Can you imagine 10,000 pilgrims all walking together 75 miles from Paris to Chartres Cathedral? Sounds pretty awesome!

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Is it possible to live the faith?

Today a friend and I were talking about the way to evangelize young people; I suppose the conversation arose from our feeling of total failure at last nights vote in the commons. Over the last few months we have decicated ourselves to working hard so that people could see the reality of what the HFE bill was all about and working to try and get through ammendments which would have signalled a significant shift in our culture.

The culture of death is indeed here and growing stronger day by day, but how do we respond to this? How do we in our faith respond to our culture? Is it by painting the liberal vision of the man Jesus who was a good guy, or another position is the uberdox vision that we should nod our birettas and swan around worrying about how many candles are on an alter? Or is it by saying to people that the Catholic faith is a liberation of mankind from death to new life, a daily struggle in the temporal, everlasting joy in the eternal?

As I reflected on this I came across a passage a friend sent me by the founder of the Communion and Liberation movement Msgr Luigi Giussani... I think this is a moving account of the vision in our faith:

"There are deep needs that give a goal to living, to reasoning, and to moving.
When something corresponds to the criteria by which everything is judged and
lived, when it corresponds to the criteria with which life is lived, should be lived,
when it corresponds to the deepest desires of the heart, when it corresponds to
what the School of Community calls “elementary experience,” when it
corresponds to the deepest needs of the heart, that is, those for which
everything is lived and judged, when it corresponds to the most natural and
fully present needs of the heart, when it brings to fruition what life has been
awaiting, then it’s exceptional."
(Fr. Giussani - Is it possible to live like this - "Faith" - p.31)

What's my opinion? Well we need to look outside ourselves for a change, because young people and politicians do not understand all the bickering which goes on in either the pro-life movement and in the Church itself. Maybe when we start worrying about souls in need of saving rather than wetting ourselves at the latest LMS fiasco or the liberal minded nutters dressing up as Potato heads for mass, then we might get somewhere.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Tonight I stayed up to watch the Live House of Commons debate on BBC parliament. I've not felt very well this evening, but I thought that tonight I may be missing history.

Our MP's have voted against a reduction in the upper time limit for abortion. Why? Is it because they believe in choice? No; it's because they believe they will be booted out of office if they vote 'Yes' for a change in this law which has caused some dramatic scenes all over the country.

This picture of a child in the womb at 12 weeks is my response to those protesters who stood chanting and laughing outside the house of commons today. Look at this child; look at what you are doing, what you are participating in. This picture of for all of those who remain silent. This picture is for those who use the word choice and bash people over the head with it.

Abortion, in a civilized society is never right. It's a sign of a failure of civilization, it's a serious flaw in our society. We need a society where there is no longer a need for abortion, not a society that measures itself with pride because it has the right to end human life at will!!

History was made this evening, democracy again failed to protect those most vulnerable children; history was made when our MP failed to protect the 20,000 women who every year are diagnosed with post abortion trauma (which we know about) and who's lives have been damaged as a result of abortion; history was made when democracy failed you and me this evening because that vote told us that we are socially viable humans, not endowed with dignity who should be respected, protected and defended at all stages of our lives.

History was made...

Tommy Burns

For those who know me, you know I'm not a massive football fun. I support Hearts and Liverpool and I like watching the big games. But few footballers impress me; a lot of them seem spoilt, and so many seem only interested in the big houses, the glory and the playboy lifestyle. Few are like the late, great Tommy Burns... The Following is the text from the Homily of his requiem mass taking place at today.

Having learned the sad news of the death of Tommy Burns, it seemed that the whole country wanted to be united in prayer to Tommy’s family and to all those who mourned his loss.

There can be few families who have received the number of condolences upon the death of a treasured member of the family, as the Burns family. Although they knew his days on earth were drawing to a close, still the pain of loss kicks in and they would have wanted to hold him just one more day, just one more minute.

The ordinary people of Glasgow and beyond have joined with supporters of Celtic football club and indeed of rival football teams to express their regard and affection for Tommy.

Almost universally recognising him as a man of faith, famous people in the political world, the entertainment industry, the Church, the world of sports, the field of journalism and the media have practically queued up to pay tribute to our friend, Thomas Burns who died in the early hours of Thursday last, the feast of St. Isidore, the farmer.

Why do I mention that? Isidore worked faithfully on his chosen occupation for the whole of his life. So too did Tommy, right up to the day he went into hospital and beyond via the telephone.

Like Isidore, he had deep religious instincts. He rose in the morning to go to church and he visited regularly churches in the surrounding area, so that other priests in the south side of Glasgow, thought of him as a parishioner.

I had the honour of anointing him with the Holy Oils of the Church and of giving him the Blessed Sacrament during his final days so that he who received Holy Communion every day was able to do so right up to the day he died.

Other priests have known him longer than I have but that privilege of being with him in as his life drew to a close pointed up to me that he was a man who communed with God.

Sometimes when I examine my own conscience I have to admit that on many days I simply “say” prayers. Tommy’s devotion, one might say, made him a man who didn’t just “say” prayers….it made him a man who prayed.

The ingredients for holiness of life were there. A deep and lasting love of his wife and of his sons and daughters. A profound and impressive faith. A real commitment and dedication to his profession. Family, faith and football gave him immense satisfaction and dignity. Those were ingredients that were conducive to holiness and happiness.

His duties to God, to his loved ones, to his colleagues did not go unfulfilled. Perhaps the truth which emerges is this: If you have your spiritual self in order, your earthly commitments will also fall into order.

Emma and Jenna, Michael and Jonathan, you must be so, so proud of your dad. Rosemary…of your husband. Mrs. Burns and your daughters…of your son and brother. Baby Cole Thomas…of your grandfather of whom you will learn so much when you grow into boyhood.

I can’t say this of many people, but I can say that I remember the first time I ever met Tommy. It must have been twenty years ago when I was a younger priest working in St. John’s, Barrhead. I noticed this visitor with a striking head of red hair and being a red head myself…as you can plainly see….I went over and asked him his name.

“Tommy Burns, Father”, he said.

“Nice to meet you Tommy”, said I.

“Do you work in this area?”

“No Father, I’m a professional footballer.”

“Oh”, I said, “who do you play for?”

“Celtic!” he replied [with a smile].

When I told that story to my pals, they groaned in despair and horror! I tell it today, not to point up my ignorance and lack of interest in football but to point to the humility of the man.

Twenty years were to pass before I met him again. That was last October when I became his parish priest. He came over to me and, not presuming that I should know him, he said, “Welcome to St. Cadoc’s Father. I’m Tommy Burns. If I can do anything to help you, just let me know.”

Celebrity sat lightly on his shoulders. Faith did not. He could come to churches in the south side of Glasgow knowing that he would be left in peace to pray. On one recent day after receiving Holy Communion, his prayer and thanksgiving were so deep that I wondered for a time if I should just slip quietly away from his bedside. On another day as I was about to leave him, I asked him to pray for me. He held my hand and said, “Father, you are always in my prayers.”

He knew that thousands of people were praying for him but he shared those prayers with Rosemary, as she so lovingly cared for him and with Emma, Jenna, Michael and Jonathan who, he told me, were his treasures.

Last Friday, an Auxiliary Bishop of Rome, visiting Glasgow, spoke of the importance of respect. Respect, he explained, comes from the Latin verb respicere which means to look back or behind yourself…to have a consideration for the person who is beside you. That will only come about in our lives when we live according to the consequences of our faith or to the consequences of a desire to do good.

All of us have within ourselves the capacity for gentleness and reverence….of mildness and of tenderness. Here before us lies a man who was both loving and loveable. A man whom you all held in great esteem if for no other reason than that he always met you with the spirit of cheerfulness.

What he was, we can be. We should never be content to be mediocre.

Thomas undoubtedly suffered before he died….but he died with incredible serenity. His iron will was still there and he saw his sickness as an opportunity to offer his suffering to the Lord for his own sins, faults and failings and those of others.

Recently it became clear that he was moving towards a pia mors….a happy death.

With Rosemary and the family I saw him do so with considerable courage and grace. After being anointed with the Holy Oils of the church for the very last time, Tommy, in his final hours, fell silent as his sickness took hold of him more strongly.

Is it possible that his life became even more valuable when he became so feeble and when he died?

Is it possible?

Dear friends, let us ask God the Father, from whom all mercy comes, to welcome into his light and peace this joyous and joyful son who, so widely esteemed, was filled with such a stunning faith that what will endure in the memories of us all, was that he was a good, good man.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Mercy; the Essence of the faith

This afternoon, the Holy Father began his pastoral visit to the Italian cities of Savona and Genoa, departing from Rome's Ciampino airport at 3.30 p.m. and landing at Christopher Columbus airport in Genoa at 4.20 p.m. From there he travelled by helicopter to Savona and thence to the nearby shrine of Our Lady of Mercy.

On his arrival at the shrine Benedict XVI was greeted by the religious authorities. He then entered the building, pausing in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and praying before the image of the Virgin, at whose feet he laid a golden rose in memory of his visit. Subsequently he was taken in an open-top car to Savona's Piazza del Popolo where he celebrated Mass and pronounced a homily.

In his remarks, the Pope commented on the day's readings where, in a passage from Exodus, God reveals His name to Moses. "The Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness", said the Pope quoting the biblical text. "These are human words", he added, "they tell us the truth about God. They were true yesterday, they are true today and they will be true always. They cause us to see the face of the Invisible with the eyes of the mind. They tells us the name of the Ineffable. That name is Mercy, Grace, Faithfulness".

He then recalled how the Virgin Mary had appeared to a local peasant in the year 1536, and how she is still venerated today with the name of Virgin of Mercy. "This is the essence of Christianity because it is the essence of God Himself", he exclaimed. "God is One in that He is entirely and solely Love, but precisely because He is Love He is openness, acceptance, dialogue. And in His relations with us, sinful mankind, He is mercy, compassion, grace, forgiveness. God created everything for existence, and He always and exclusively wills life".

"During the history of the Church, the Virgin Mary has always invited her children to return to God, to entrust themselves to Him in prayer, to knock with trusting insistence at the door of His merciful Heart. ... My visit to Savona on the day of the Blessed Trinity is above all a pilgrimage, through Mary, to the font of faith, of hope and of love".

Benedict XVI then recalled the figure of his predecessor Pius VII. "Two centuries on", he said, "I have come to renew the recognition of the Holy See and of the Church for the faith, the love, and the courage with which your fellow citizens supported the Pope during the exile imposed upon him here by Napoleon Bonaparte".

"That dark page of European history has, by the power of the Holy Spirit, become a rich source of grace and education, even for our own time. It teaches us the courage to face the challenges of the world (materialism, relativism, laicism), never giving way to compromise but ready to pay in person in order to remain faithful to the Lord and His Church".

Those events, and the apparition of the Virgin at a tragic moment in the history of Savona, "come together to transmit a message of hope to the Christian generations of our own day. They encourage us to have faith in the instruments of Grace which the Lord places at our disposal in all situations".

Among these "instruments of Grace", the Holy Father highlighted "individual, family and community prayer". In this context he also recalled how "Sunday needs to be rediscovered in its Christian roots, beginning with the celebration of the Risen Lord", and how "the Sacrament of Penance" represents a "fundamental means of spiritual development".

"Works of charity are other indispensable means of growth", he continued. "In the modern world, which often makes beauty and physical efficiency an ideal to be pursued in every possible way, we are called as Christians to discover the face of Jesus Christ, 'the most handsome of men', in the suffering and the excluded".

In this context, the Holy Father then greeted "prisoners and staff in the St. Augustine penitentiary of Savona" and the sick people of the city.

Turning to address members of the clergy, the Pope invited them "to trust in the effectiveness of your daily priestly service", and to "go out and seek people, as the Lord Jesus did, ... making your presence felt in all areas of work and life". To religious he reiterated the fact that "the world has need of your witness and your prayer".

Finally, Pope Benedict called upon young people "to put your youth at the service of God and your fellows. ... Give this city the passion and enthusiasm that derive from your living experience of faith, an experience that does not dampen the expectations of human life but exalts them by sharing in Christ's own experience".

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Bishops Back 'Adult' Stem Cell Research

Catholic leaders back adult stem cell research with grant

The presidents of the Catholic Bishops’ conferences of England & Wales, Scotland and Ireland today announced the award of a £25,000 grant, funded from a special Day for Life collection, to support adult stem cell research in the UK.

The donation has been made to Novussanguis, an international research consortium on cord blood and adult stem cells for therapeutic aims that was launched in Paris on 14 May, 2008.

“We support scientific research that seeks to cure disease and suffering,” said the Cardinals.

“The HFE Bill has focused on embryonic stem cell research. In fact, much greater progress has already been made towards clinical therapies using adult stem cells. Other emerging techniques hold potential for good, without creating and destroying human embryos. We are making this donation as a sign of the Church’s commitment to science and human good.

“We also welcome the positive engagement with scientists and ethicists last Friday, which identified the need for continued dialogue. This meeting re-enforced the fact that there are profound questions both about the scientific efficacy of proposed techniques and their ethical justification.

“In particular, we would ask:
• What ethical considerations should limit bio-medical research?
• Should the government be taking the dramatic step of legalising research on cybrid or hybrid embryos just as new techniques are emerging which would make the use of such hybrids in research redundant?
• To what extent is the UK in danger of neglecting more promising therapies by focusing too much on embryonic stem cell research?

“Not nearly enough time has been given to discussing these issues and these questions require answers before and not after legislation.”

+Sean Cardinal Brady, Archbishop of Armagh, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Ireland
+Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales
+Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Object against Objectification!

Check out this site and sign the petition!!


Please could you pray for a friend of mine who is in Hospital at the moment.

Our Lady of Lourdes - Ora Pro Nobis

Gordon Brown to Address Kirk Assembly

The BBC has released details confirming Gordon Browns plans to address the general assembly of the Church of Scotland or 'the kirk' as it's often called. You can read the article here

I'm a bit at a loss as to why as he is not expected to discuss 'his own' religious views, but then that sums up the kirk.

If he's looking for popularity then he's going down the wrong path... Mrs Thatcher made the mistake of addressing the kirk at a time when some people listened to what the kirk itself had to say and when it had some form of a spine! She was nearly linched as a result! Good luck Gordon!


Love of your love has a good article on the superiority of Australians over the British both in Cricket and in the liturgy! check it out!

Liberal Modernism

You might want to check out this over at Orbis Catholicus.

I remember when I was young hearing all the 'it's your own path, do what you like' rubbish and that's what turned me off the Church. I thought if that's the case there is not point in going to Mass and I think this is why today there is such opposition to the Magisterium (teaching) of the Church. On one hand we have priests telling us do what you want and Rome telling us something else.

So if any priests read this blog, then bear in mind being 'creative' either liturgically or in your 'interpretation' of the Church's teaching is actually doing more harm that good. Nuff said.

The Holy Spirit is the Uncreated "Immaculate Conception"

In Lourdes, Bernadette asked the Virgin Mary her name and she replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception." By her luminous words, Mary expressed that she was not only conceived immaculately but that she actually was the Immaculate Conception. It is like the difference between something white and whiteness itself, or something perfect and perfection.

(...) The Holy Spirit is the uncreated Immaculate Conception. (...) The third person of the Trinity is not embodied as we all know and our word "spouse" is insufficient to express the relationship between the Immaculate and the Holy Spirit. It can be said that the Immaculate Conception is in a sense "the incarnation of the Holy Spirit."

Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Friday, 16 May 2008

The Family

VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received representatives from the Forum of Family Associations and from the European Federation of Catholic Family Associations, who are in Rome to participate in a conference entitled: "Alliance for the Family in Europe, associations in the leading role".

In his comments, the Pope recalled how the conference aims "to compare the experiences of various types of family association, and has the objective of raising the awareness of political leaders and public opinion on the central and irreplaceable role that the family plays in our society".

The Holy Father recalled the fact that this year marks the 40th anniversary of Paul VI's Encyclical "Humanae vitae", and the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the "Charter of the Rights of the Family", presented by the Holy See in 1983.

"The Charter of the Rights of the Family is principally addressed to political leaders", said the Pope, and it "offers those invested with responsibility for the common good a model and a point of reference upon which to base appropriate political legislation for the family. At the same time, it is addressed to all families, encouraging them to come together in the defence and promotion of their rights".

Benedict XVI then quoted John Paul II, "the Pope of the family", who used to say that "the future of humanity passes by way of the family" and he added: "Biblical revelation is above all an expression of a story of love, a story of alliance with God and with mankind. This is why the story of love and union between a man and a woman in the alliance of marriage was taken up by God as a symbol of the history of salvation".

Turning to consider the difficulties facing families in the modern world, the Pope said: "From so many families, in a worryingly precarious state, we hear a cry for help, often an unconscious one, which clamours for a response from civil authorities, from ecclesial communities and from the various educational agencies. Accordingly, there is an increasingly urgent need for a common commitment to support families by every means available, from the social and economic point of view".

Among the proposals to emerge from the conference, the Holy Father praised that of "the laudable commitment to mobilise citizens in support of the initiative for 'family-friendly fiscal policy'", which aims to urge "governments to promote family-related policies that give parents a real possibility of having children and bringing them up in the family".

"For believers, the family (cell of communion at the very foundations of society) is like a 'small domestic church' called to reveal God's love to the world. ... Help families to be a visible sign of this truth, to defend the values which are written in human nature itself and which are therefore common to all humanity: life, the family and education. These are not principles deriving from a [particular] confession of faith but from the application of a justice respectful of the rights of each human being. This", he concluded, "is your mission, dear Christian families".

A Reflection from St. Faustina

In that same moment, the soul drowns entirely in Him and experiences a happiness as great as that of the chosen ones in heaven. Although the chosen ones in heaven see God face to face and are completely and absolutely happy, still their knowledge of God is not the same. God has given me to understand this. This deeper knowledge begins here on earth, depending on the grace [given], but to a great extent it also depends on our faithfulness to that grace.

However, the soul receiving this unprecedented grace of union with God cannot say that it sees God face to face, because even here there is a very thin veil of faith, but so very thin that the soul can say that it sees God and talks with Him. It is "divinized." God allows the soul to know how much He loves it, and the soul sees that better and holier souls than itself have not received this grace. Therefore, it is filled with holy amazement, which maintains it in deep humility, and it steeps itself in its own nothingness and holy astonishment; and the more it humbles itself, the more closely God unites himself with it and descends to it.

The soul, at this moment is, as it were, hidden; its senses are inactive; in one moment, it knows God and drowns in Him. It knows the whole depth of the Unfathomable One, and the deeper this knowledge, the more ardently the soul desires Him.

Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, 771

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The Gift of a Vocation

Today, a person I consider to be a good friend confided that he had been accepted to study for the priesthood; later I was honoured to be present as he confided in his closest colleagues that he was leaving a job he loved, and a charity he had worked so hard for... It’s not often I see it, but I felt as if I was present when the Holy Spirit came down and dwelt upon our Lord in the river. He, like my friend, was not only receiving the grace He needed to go on, but the grace to quite literally lay down his life; I couldn’t think of a better person that fits the description – a man for others.

I could go on, but I think it’s enough to say how beautiful a moment it was to witness this. It’s amazing how in a special way his ‘yes’ was so like Marys fiat to the angel Gabriel. It takes courage and it takes so much faith to lay your life down. What a gift, to be a shepherd of souls... To bring the Lord, creator of the universe, the cosmos, the sun, the moon and life itself into your hands every day and say ‘hoc est enim corpus meum’ ‘ for this is my body’. I ask your prayers for him and I ask that you remember all those considering, all those living and all those struggling to come to terms with the call the Lord has given them. May our most holy mother look upon them all hold them close in her heart, now and forever – Amen.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Choice

Tonight BBC 2 showed a documentary following 4 womens stories of their abortion.

The documentary was very good, and it showed what I would call an honest account of their lives and their reasons for going through with an abortion.

What I found suprising though was how many of the women felt as if they were doing the wrong thing, yet whilst at the same time felling that their circumstances made the abortion right. One woman spoke of going to the going to the clinic and just hoping for a white angel to rescue her who would give her the opening she needed to keep the child. Another spoke of how she couldn't look after the child because her two others had health problems. One girl just said it wasn't convieniant.

There is a need today to realise that we can understand the reasons for an abortion, but because we can understand something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

What I saw in that documentary was a genuine need for a society willing to be open to life, whilst recognising the genuine need to provide alteratives. Most women feel alone, they try and bury the decision, make it seem as if it never happened and they then wonder why they get upset, cant seem to move on, feel a part of them missing.

Throwing contraception at women will not work. The last 40 years have shown us how this only gives people a false sense of security. The problem is not getting pregnant. It's a society who thinks you can do anything without any consequences. What makes this so urgent for the issue of abortion is that human lives are at stake. Not only the baby, but in many cases the women too.

At the end of the documentary they showed a women getting counselling and she was asked, 'what is it you would most like in this world', she replied, 'to be loved'. I think everyone wants to love and to be loved in return. Yet so often we try to short circuit the issue and say well if I want love I have to have sex and plenty of it. We negate Love itself when forget God who is Love.

God loves everyone, even the people doing the abortions. He loves you, He loves me and at times I wonder why... Yet the fact is that love itself can only do one thing and that is to love. But love does make demands, it asks questions, it wants the best thing for us and wants us to be the best we can. Sin, can be understood as a rejection of love because it turns it's back on the very nature of what love is.

That's why we must as John Paul II said build a civilisation of love. That means building a culture whereby we show how God is Love, but that doesn't mean he loves what is wrong. That doesn't mean it's OK to sin, and it doesn't mean we can try and change Gods will simply because it doesn't fit in with the image of a parent who spoils their children by granting every wish.

Building a civilisation of love also means building a culture of life... I believe the two go hand in hand. This documentary shows a need for organisations such as LIFE who offer another option which makes a real difference to peoples lives and which gives the message that we can and we do love you regardless. Yet it also shows a need for God in the world and how really, only. by God's grace can we change anything.