Fr. Matthew O'Callaghan - Requiescat in Pace

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 16 July 2018 - 18:42:31 | by admin

The second priest that we heard had sadly died last week in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, was Fr. Mortimer Matthew O'Callaghan. He was 89 years old and had been a priest in the Archdiocese for 48 years.

Fr. O'Callaghan - who many people knew more affectionately and simply as ''Little Father Mattie'' - was an absolutely outstanding priest. He was also one of the holiest people that I ever met.

I never saw a Novus Ordo priest offering the entire Mass in that rite with such other-worldly reverence and devotion. Flowing from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the heart of his life and priesthood, Fr. Mattie was holy, kind, charitable and a true shepherd to souls.

We first met him just after we got married in 2002, when he supplied at Sunday Mass in Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in Seaforth. I said to Angie that he reminded me of a latter-day St. John Vianney. Following from that, we gradually developed a friendship with him between 2002 and 2012. Landmarks along the way included a period of regular monthly attendance at his First Saturdays for Our Lady of Fatima, at Ss. Peter and Paul church in Haresfinch; going on a pilgrimage to Lourdes led by him in December 2008; attending a Marian Day Mass when he was acting as a chaplain to the Missionary Sisters of Charity in Liverpool; meeting him at various social events hosted by friends; sharing in the joys of his 40th anniversary of ordination in 2010; visting him for evenings at his little apartment in Ainsdale; and having him over for meals with us when we used to have an apartment near Crosby Beach.

Those First Saturdays at Ss. Peter and Paul's were amazing days with a long queue waiting for Confession and spiritual counsel from Fr. Mattie, then his very reverent offering of Holy Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the holy Rosary, a beautiful Marian procession, the recitation of the traditional version of the Holy Michael prayer and a cheerful social afterwards in the parish hall. During those social periods, we noticed that Father made a point of spending some time sitting with the people at every single one of the tables in the hall. He once told us that he did this so as to be approachable to everyone and to help them to feel the tangible pastoral care of their priest.

Father loved the social side of life and he delighted in telling us a story about a home he had once visited, which had just been blessed by the birth of a newborn child. He explained that the father, a big strong Irish man, had come in, raised a glass and proposed a toast with the immortal words, ''Long legs to the baby!'' This became a kind of catchphrase whenever we met Fr. Mattie; and he would mirthfully grin from ear to ear whenever it was mentioned.

Devout worship of God, authentic Marian devotion, genuine care of souls and development of a strongly Christian community life; these were all the hallmarks of Fr. Mattie and of his priestly ministry.
Angeline, Fr. Mattie and Margaret celebrating Father's 40th anniversary of priesthood in the summer of 2010. Margaret had put a great deal of love, planning and hard work into making the day a very special one for him.

Father once told us that, when he still had a parish, he used to go on foot, like the priests of old, to every single house in his parish, twice each year. What made this extra special, was the fact that Father went to every house, whether Catholic or not.

He simply knocked on doors, introduced himself, explained who he was and where he lived, and concluded that they knew where he was if they ever needed any help.

Father recalled that some folks would ask him in and others would not. He smiled at the remembrance of one household that turned him away in the rain one dark night, but then invited him in for a cup of tea, six months later. It was all about gradually building relationships.

In the car on the way to my best friend Fr. Mike Williams' funeral, after he had sadly died in September 2011, Fr. Mattie explained that he also had served as a hospital chaplain for a time.

Fr. Mattie excitedly told us how he had won the confidence of a dying man, given him basic instruction, heard his Confession and helped him to die a holy death in God's peace. ''Now, isn't that wonderful?'' he would say. 

He also told us that he had once read somewhere that the soul does not necessarily leave the body immediately. In light of that, he would go alone into the hospital's morgue and pray for the lately dead to receive the grace of salvation. Whatever the merits of that particular theological theory, it nevertheless demonstrates again something of Fr. Mattie's deep care for souls; and of his resolve to go the extra mile to take the love of Christ out to all those in his field of care.

That duty of care for souls was particularly apparent in Father's incredible sermons. These were most often delivered in a low and gentle, but also at times grave tone. He consistently called the faithful to conversion of life, to repent of sin and to live lives of holiness, by allowing God to be at the centre. I vividly remember being on the edge of my pew one time when he described the horrific last moments of the tormented Josef Stalin: ''Pray for poor sinners, my dear children. Pray for them...'' he concluded in a sombre voice.

Like Fr. Peter Kelly (RIP), who was mentioned in our last piece, Fr. Mattie was also in the Marian Movement of Priests (MMP). After his love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, there is no doubt that Fr. Mattie's next great love was Our Lady. In his apartment was a lovely little piece of furniture with a nice cloth, bearing a beautiful statue of Our Lady. Father's Marian devotion was touchingly childlike; without ever being childish. Indeed, none of what is written here must be taken to mean that Father was in any way childish. On the contrary, he was prudent, shrewd and could frequently move people and situations to get what he wanted. Mostly that was nothing other than the glory of God, the good of the Church and the love of Our Lady. He knew and understood people and observed many things. He could lead, but with humility. Perhaps when I say here that he was childlike, it is more of a metaphor for the cultivation in him of Christ-like qualities.

As a Marian priest, Father was also another great advocate of the regular praying of the holy Rosary.

He once told us that he suffered a heart attack in his presbytery one night and had to literally crawl for help. Apparently, as he crawled, he kept asking Our Lady to, ''do a Cana for me Blessed Mother!''

One of our happiest memories of Fr. Mattie is the winter pilgrimage we spent in his group at Lourdes in time for the feast of the Immaculate Conception in December 2008.   
Fr. Mattie with Angie at the airport during the winter pilgrimage to Lourdes in 2008.

This was an incredible opportunity to witness Father's deep devotion to Our Lady and St. Bernadette first hand. We approached him to say that we would like to kneel for Holy Communion during the pilgrimage. Before we started just going always to the Traditional Latin Mass, it became important to do this beforehand because of modernistic clerics who might make a scene. For instance, several of our friends suffered cruel humiliations; including one to whom a priest growled, ''Get up!'' and dragged him to his feet by his clothing. In sharp and happy contrast to any of that, however, Fr. Mattie was simply delighted that we wanted to kneel for Holy Communion. Indeed, he told us that he wished that everyone would return to the practice of kneeling, ''like they used to.'' This certainly took the pressure off us during the rest of that blessed pilgrimage. Father knew we had been through the mill for the Faith and he was very kind to us.

Father sat with us on the flight home and, as soon as the ''Seatbelts Off'' sign came on, he jumped up and went to every seat on the aeroplane to chat to the people and offer them a Miraculous Medal from a huge bundle he suddenly produced from his jacket.

I guess that being the parish priest in his own place had somehow protected Father from some of the deplorable irreverences of our age.

He once told us that he had been donated some money and that he had used this to have a fine set of marble altar rails installed in his church to make it more traditional after the ''wreckovations'' following the Second Vatican Council. Apparently the ''powers that be'' had eventually got wind of this and an auxiliary bishop was sent out to ''investigate''. Happily, this turned out to be the down-to-earth and genuine Bishop Kevin O'Connor, who died in 1993. Apparently, Bishop O'Connor had said to Father Mattie that the, then, Archbishop was worried about him. Then he had given him the wink and said, ''You've done a good job on these Mattie. You'll be alright!''

When Father eventually ''retired'' from his parish due to his health, he began to work as hard as ever by supplying on a regular basis at parishes all over the Archdiocese, and sometimes beyond, to give priests a chance to get a vacation. It seems that this became a shocking awakening to him as to just how bad things were getting in so many places.

And so, as he motored around in his little black car, he became shocked by the loud chattering and boisterous behaviour in many churches before Holy Mass, the widespread acceptance of unchaste dress at church and the deep sense of a general loss of any kind of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, or even for the church as a sacred place.

Fr. Mattie did what he could to counter these horrors by his own reverence, by the content of his sermons and by direct corrective actions.

With great gentleness and humility, he would speak one to one with unchastely dressed women and explain to them why this was wrong and point out to them the great good that they could do by dressing chastely.

One time, he was chatting with parishioners in the porch after Mass, when he spotted a man chatting and laughing away merrily nearby. Father went over and asked him whether he was the Extraordinary Minister to whom he had just given Holy Communion to take straight out to the sick. When the man replied that he was, Father asked where the sacred Pyx was now. The man indicated his breast pocket. In front of the gathered throng, Father Mattie got right down on his knees in reparation. He once reflected movingly to us how only priests were allowed to touch the Sacred Species in the Old Rite.

Not everyone would listen to Father and complaints would be made. He was also greatly distressed when he heard a nun disparaging a holy picture in a sacristy. With an almost heartbreaking naivete, Father used to ask me, ''What have the parish priests been doing to let things get this bad?'' He would never criticise the bishops to us. Indeed, as we were lay people, he made a point of this. However, he did say that he was very concerned at the decisions they were making and told us to pray for the bishops.

If Father ever encountered couples who were living together in sin, he would grow very sad and say to them, always with humility, ''No, my children. This is not right. You can't live together like that without the grace of the sacrament. Oh no. That's a sin. Come and see me at my parish and I'll help you to get things sorted out.''

God bless him, how few have that kind of courage today! When we told him that we had experienced bullying on the compulsory marriage preparation day we had, had to attend to get married, just because we had actually defended the Magisterial teachings on holy matrimony, Father Mattie grew very sad. ''Is that what they said?'' he asked gravely. On a happier note, he once explained how he had studied those teachings deeply in his seminary and it had then hit him just how wonderful the sacrament and vocation of holy matrimony really is. With humourous delight in his eyes, he chuckled that he had realised too late, seeing as he was then nearing ordination.
''Long legs to the baby!'' Father Mattie as so many people across the Archdiocese will remember him.

In 2004, just before we went overseas to America for 2 years in Steubenville, our dear friend Fiona hosted a ''going away'' party at her house, with Fr. Mattie as guest of honour. This photograph was taken that night and I think that it really captures something of the Fr. Mattie that we all knew and loved.

The circumstances of that photograph were as follows.

Father explained to us how much Dr. Scott Hahn's writings had helped him in his life and also in his priesthood, as they had helped him to go much deeper into the Sacred Scriptures. I asked him if I could take a picture of him with me and, when I encountered Dr. Hahn, I could tell him about Fr. Mattie and what he had said.

This was another humbling time that I glimpsed something of Father's Christ-like humility, because he said a few times, and with great simplicity, ''Would you really do that for me, Alan? Would you?''

When I eventually did meet Scott Hahn, showed him the picture and explained what Fr. Mattie had said, he replied that he was always blessed when he heard that his writings had helped anyone, but that it was always extra special when that person was a priest. When I eventually got that news back to Fr. Mattie in England, he was delighted.

In 2010, we moved back to Liverpool and rented an apartment close to one of my favourite places for prayer, reflection and basic relaxation with family and friends - Crosby Beach. During the next couple of years, we sometimes visited Father at his apartment up the coast in Ainsdale, and he sometimes joined us for meals at our place.

One night, we took a walk right along the waterfront and back. Father was joyfully greeting everyone we passed. He explained that he thought this an important witness for Christ and the Church, being as he was in his Roman collar. Most people responded warmly, as the diminutive Father Mattie had that kind of personality and olde world Irish charm. However, one bloke was curt with him and carried on past. Father became very sad and said that ''we must pray for that poor man'' as he felt this was a particular slight against Our Lord and the Church. Once again, we glimpsed something of that wonderful aspect of Father's life and priesthood.

It was during the social visits of those years, that Father explained something of his own journey through life.

He explained that he had served Holy Mass as a small boy at Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Seaforth, and had felt the call to priesthood early on; he spoke of the importance of prayer and of having good Christian friends to keep one going in the Faith; he reflected how his vocation had been started but then delayed by health issues; how he had done his, then compulsory, National Service for a couple of years in the armed forces overseas; how this had helped him to mature and gain good insights into human nature before becoming a priest; how for the sake of his vocation he had sacrificed the chance of a relationship with a lovely young lady who was ''sweet on him'' in the military days; how the other young men began to come to him for advice when they saw this integrity and deep faith; how this helped him to have a deeper understanding of the great value of priestly celibacy, which helps people to come with problems, when they see commitment and realise that you are not a threat to them; how all of this had affirmed his own vocation; and how he had become such a good football player that he could have played professionally, if he had chosen to go down that road.

Over the years, we heard from other sources that Father Mattie had indeed been an incredibly light, fast and skillful footballer, with professional levels of play, in the days of his youth.

In terms of pastoral care of souls there are so many things we could add. Here are a few more.

Whenever we visited him at his apartment, Father would always smile merrily by one door and say, ''Would you like to see Someone before you go? Would you like to see Our Lord for a minute? I've got my own little chapel with a Tabernacle, you know!'' And he would open the door, and we would all kneel there at the edge of the little chapel together for a few moments. ''Now, isn't that lovely!'' he would say with delight, as he then led us down the hall to say goodbye.

One time we were chatting outside a church after Mass and two young teenaged girls came along. ''Now then, my children,'' he said. ''Be careful in these teen years. These are the years of great temptations! Stay close to Our Lord and Our Lady, and ask them to help you through these years!'' When the girls smiled and said, ''We know, Father. We've come to get Baptised!'' Father was overjoyed.

Around 2010, I remember Father going around places and telling anyone who would listen that, ''the demon of impurity has become very strong in these times... It is essential that people resist and do not allow the enemy of souls a foothold.''

Father also told people that the depressing remembrance of past sins, as long as they have been repented, confessed and forgiven, never, ever comes from Jesus. With gentle clarity, Father would say, ''Our Lord, Who is Love Itself, would never throw old sins back in your face like that.'' He made it clear that such disquieting experiences are attacks of the infernal enemy of souls. He encouraged people to always stay close to Our Lord.

In my own spiritual life, Father was a great support to me through two bereavements I suffered in the space of a couple of years, including the death of my great friends Fr. Mike Williams and Phil Rushton. ''Are you alright son.'' he would say. ''C'mon Angie, let's get him a cup of tea!''

In the winter of 2011, Father seemed to suddenly become overwhelmed with his belongings and whenever we visited him he would ask me to start sorting and taking his things off to charity shops. I did not ever do this as I was concerned that people might wonder what I was doing and who the heck I thought I was! I knew that his family and priest friends were visiting him, so thought that, as a layman, it would be best to let them help in the matter.

One time we met him and he did not seem to know who we were any more. Then my dad was diagnosed with cancer and suffered and died in 2012. Aside from receiving the sacraments, I was out of the public Church scene with grief for a long time. I think the cumulation of deaths, (we'd also lost a friend called Laura, who died young and suddenly in her 30's), and my close friendship with Dad, just overwhelmed me; plus the post Ushaw soul-shrapnel... Actually, although I write this blog, I'm still not really back in the public Church scene.

By the time I re-emerged to some extent, I was told by another holy old priest friend that Fr. Mattie had gone into a home somewhere and would no longer recognise who I was. It is impossible to think of this without regret. Here we see another reason why, in our human frailty, we all need Our Lord Jesus so much.

Nevertheless, there is another happy story with which it seems more appropriate to conclude.

As one of our pictures above shows, Father Mattie celebrated 40 years of priesthood in 2010. That was the year that Pope Benedict XVI, of happy memory, was visiting the UK and all priests celebrating milestone jubliees that year received a splendid invite to the Papal Mass at Westminster.

I'll always remember how little Fr. Mattie, with childlike glee and humility, kept saying, ''To think Angeline, to think Alan... I'm going to be at Holy Mass with His Holiness. Me!'' He was quite simply over the moon.

It is heartening and moving to hope and pray for him now to be feeling something similar about entering into the eternal presence of the Most Holy Trinity and enjoying the Beatific Vision of God for evermore. Please join us in praying for the repose of his immortal soul.
Fr. Matthew O'Callaghan, priest of Jesus Christ. In these times, what a light he was! May God have mercy on him and rest his immortal soul. May his family and friends be comforted. May God bless those who nursed him.

With thanksgiving and Christian hope, we pray: Eternal rest grant unto Fr. Matthew O'Callaghan, dear Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him, and may he rest in peace. Amen.

Father's Reception and Vigil Mass will take place at St. John Stone Church in Ainsdale, this Wednesday 18th July at 7pm. His funeral will commence at 12 noon, on Thursday 19th July, followed by Burial at Sacred Heart Cemetery, Southport.

Our Lady of Fatima - pray for us!

St. Joseph - pray for us!

St. Matthew - pray for us!

Ss Peter and Paul - pray for us!   

Fr. Peter Kelly - Requiescat in Pace

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 16 July 2018 - 10:59:22 | by admin

Two good priests of the Archdiocese of Liverpool have died in recent days. The first that we heard about was Fr. Peter Kelly, who died at Ince Blundell last week at the age of 84. Fr. Kelly had been a priest of the Archdiocese for over 55 years.

As a young man, Fr. Kelly had worked for the Liverpool office of HM Customs and Excise. After training at Upholland College, he was ordained to the sacred priesthood by (then) Archbishop John Carmel Heenan in June 1963; just weeks before the late Archbishop, and later Cardinal, was appointed to the See of Westminster.

In the decades that followed, Fr. Kelly became a well known figure in the Archdiocese, through serving as assistant priest in many parishes and as parish priest at a few of them. He suffered the cross of ill health for many years and this sometimes cut short his parish placements. In 1993, he took on lighter duties as chaplain to Nazareth House in Widnes, ''retiring'' in 2002.

I met Fr. Kelly in 1997, at one of his pro-life days of prayer in the beautiful Holy Family church at Ince Blundell. I had just left my job at the Bank and was about to head off to Ushaw seminary. When he heard where I was headed, Fr. Kelly generously set aside some time to hear my confession, chat to me about the priesthood and give me some good fatherly advice. I remember that he highlighted the importance of devotion to Our Lady and the praying of the Holy Rosary. As he was a member of the Marian Movement of Priests (MMP) one would expect nothing less. In fact, I seem to remember Fr. Kelly telling me to stay close to the lay people involved in that movement as ''they're sincere, they will pray for you and they will keep you grounded.''

Among all the regular Archdiocesan clergy, I never met another priest who was so well informed about, nor so articulate and consistent in speaking out against, the global tentacles and reach of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

Fr. Kelly cared profoundly about the unborn and he regularly used his sermons, pro-life days of prayer and writings to inform people and to stand up for the fundamental right to life, which is so often threatened in our age.

To be honest, I don't think Fr. Kelly was too chuffed with me when I next turned up at one of those pro-life days with my wife in tow in 2003; having left the seminary and eventually got married. Nevertheless, we attended the monthly pro-life days which he ran at Ince Blundell, with the devout and hardworking Mary, as often as we could until going off to America for two years in 2004. We also attended a First Saturday devotion, which he hosted at the little church of Our Lady of Fatima in Bala, over in North Wales. I remember those days as good times of prayer, intercession, fellowship and an opportunity to receive important information from Fr. Kelly's researches.

After going off to Steubenville for those two years between 2004-2006, we lost touch with Fr. Kelly. However, we did hear updates on the grapevine over the years about his ongoing health problems, participation in events to intercede for priests and his ongoing involvement with the Marian Movement of Priests.

In 2015, Fr. Kelly was one of the 461 UK priests who signed the public letter urging the Rome Synod to stand firm on the true teachings of the Magisterium regarding divorce/re-''marriage'' and the reception of Holy Communion. In the present climate, that was itself a courageous act.

There will be a Mass of Reception for Fr. Kelly at St. John Stone Church in Ainsdale, on Monday 23rd July at 7:00pm. His funeral will take place there at 12 noon on Tuesday 24th July, with Burial at Ford Cemetery to follow.

Fr. Kelly loved Our Lord and Our Lady, promoted the Rosary faithfully and worked with a special devotion for the rights of the unborn. He also had a high awareness of the spiritual warfare of these times. We thank God for his priesthood and ministry to so many souls over the years. Please keep the repose of his immortal soul in your prayers.

Eternal rest grant unto Fr. Peter Kelly, dear Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him, and may he rest in peace. Amen.

Our Lady, Queen of the Holy Rosary - Pray for us!       

Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel - Let us Wear the Brown Scapular with True Devotion

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 16 July 2018 - 09:51:36 | by admin

Today's feast is always an important date for England and for the Catholic Church throughout the whole world. For it was on this very day, in the year 1251 AD, that Our Lady of Mt. Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock in Cambridge. In these days, the importance of the Brown Scapular cannot really be overstated.

It is well worth remembering how Our Lady promised that anyone who died, whilst wearing the Brown Scapular, would be spared from the eternal fires of Hell. Of course, this pledge of salvation necessarily implies that such persons be living in the state of grace.

We cannot recommend highly enough to everyone who reads this, just how important and beneficial it is to become enrolled in the Brown Scapular by a good priest, as soon as possible. This is an important sacramental which, if lived according to the nature of true devotion, helps the faithful to receive graces and thus remain close to Our Blessed Lady and Her Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Each day the scapular is also a tangible reminder that we are in relationship with Our Lord and Our Lady. During peaceful times of prayer, times of suffering, trial or temptation, or even just waking unexpectedly in the night, it can be a great source of strength and consolation to hold onto the Brown Scapular around one's neck. Sometimes when becoming aware of it during the day, it invites spontaneous prayers or a sense of God's presence and protection. If occasionally noticed by others, it can even become a source of evangelization.

In such days of apostasy, confusion, rebellion, secularization and growing persecution, the importance of the Brown Scapular is very great indeed.

Let's do our utmost to respond to the graces given by God, at Our Lady's request, through the powerful devotion of the Brown Scapular. 

Our Lady of Mount Carmel - Pray for us!      

Heaven Knows!

Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 14 July 2018 - 13:34:54 | by admin

Dear Readers,

It has been hard to post anything up here for a few days, due to my own commitments around here and to the sheer scale of events happening in the Church.

I was in the process of writing a piece to respond to the widespread apostasy of so many bishops and priests, but began to think it was just too negative, and would merely add to all the ''white noise'' of similar information which is emerging all across the globe.

Truly these days appear to be apocalyptic.

Then, we were suddenly broadsided when we read in our weekly free newspaper that another local priest is to go to court; this time over allegations of historical sex offences against children.

Regular readers will recall that Holy Week became a real crucifixion for us here, when the same local paper described the gory details of a court case involving another local priest - a man from the next parish to my parents, who regularly offered the Traditional Latin Mass and who had even blessed our home when we first got married - had been found guilty of visiting internet chat-rooms to view children being sexually abused and of adding comments on them about what he would like to do to children himself. Although we have made an act of the will to forgive this man, it is taking a while for the feelings of forgiveness to catch up. We are so sickened by the sheer gravity of his crimes and of his duplicity. What a grim betrayal it all is of the families in his own pastoral care.

And now we and our neighbours read that a man who served for years as parish priest in this very neighbourhood is now to appear in court relating to accusations of seven cases of indecent assault against two young boys, which are claimed to have happened between 1980 and 1982.

Same deanery, another priest.

My poor parents went regularly to this guy's Mass for several years!

Although that case has yet to be heard, I am just sick and tired of hearing of cardinals, bishops and priests betraying Christ, undermining the faithful and gravely harming the innocent children who they are supposed to be leading to Heaven.

Yesterday morning, I read Steve Skojec's piece at 1 Peter 5, and I could relate very much to what he was saying there. The comments section also revealed once again how so many Catholics all around the world are feeling the same; whilst dissenting post-Catholic Modernists have seized the levers of power and are vigorously attempting to deconstruct the Church while they still have the time.

Every day, the upcoming Amazonian Synod, the Youth Synod and the World Day of Families look more and more like blown-open bridgeheads for the anti-Church to wreak its ''synodal'' havoc. It's like the KGB-handled Medellin Conference has come back on steroids!

Look, when even Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the former head of the Vatican Bank, is saying, as LifeSiteNews reported this week, that the ''authors of the New World Order demographic collapse'' are influencing the Vatican, then it is beyond time for us all to pay attention and get praying and working to defend the Faith.

Yesterday, I especially felt sad for a guy called Bob from Ohio, who said at 1 Peter 5 that events were causing him mental anguish, due to the evils in the Church, the impossibility for him to reach a Traditional Latin Mass and the errors he has to put up with in his own local parish.

For everyone who is suffering with Christ in His Passion through all of this - and what a grace that is, when you stop to think about it - then what follows is written by way of an encouragement to you. Yes, to all friends in Christ who read this, all those who Our Blessed Lord has chosen to go through this night with Him, in ways and for reasons which we may not understand, in order to be part of the glorious Triumph of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

In the depths of spiritual struggle yesterday morning, quite out of the blue, I received a sudden realization that Heaven Knows!

With a renewed sense of understanding, I grasped once more that Heaven not only knows everything that is going on, but is ultimately going to draw a greater good from it, than you or I can even imagine.

In short, God intimately knows each and all of us and what we are enduring right now, for love of Him and His holy Church.

Emmanuel, God is with us: in our fears for the salvation of children and family members; anxieties about whether or not we ourselves will persevere in the Faith; concern that one's sacramental and prayer life seem to be under massive and sustained attack; at times herculean efforts to get to a regular Traditional Latin Mass; or distress that one cannot do so; frustration and even anger about what is happening to the Church and to society; the grim realization that so many people have not only now moved beyond faith in God, but even beyond any kind of rational discourse on matters of nature and morality; horrible feelings of futility; and financial and social pressures encountered in trying to remain faithful.

Yes, Our Lord Jesus Christ is with us in all of these things. We are safe with the Most Holy Trinity, with Our Blessed Lady, with Holy Michael and all the angels and saints; even if it does not feel like it.

God has got this.

So many people are speaking of such concerns in the comments of traditional websites, that it becomes clear that Our Lord is permitting this huge trial to test, purify and even increase His faithful remnant.

To suffer these things is truly a great grace; because it proves we are on the side of Christ and reveals who we really are in our depths.

May we never forget that it is because of God's grace that we believe in the first place. That shows a great deal of goodness from Him toward each of us to begin with. We have to learn to trust that He will bring to fruition and completion the good work that He has begun in us.

I think it also reveals that the enemy are working a general strategy to wear down the faithful.

This is where, after the Sacraments received worthily and with love, daily thanksgiving, regular reading of good spiritual content and times of silent prayer with Sacred Scripture are all important means to survive.

A verse which can also be particularly helpful is actually 1 Peter 5:9: ''Whom resist ye, strong in faith: knowing that the same affliction befalls your brethren who are in the world.''

And so yesterday, that sense of Heaven Knows, having broken in on me like a sunburst on a dismal day, remained with me throughout the afternoon. Even though strange spiritual attacks seemed to continue... I'm sure many of you are going through this.

Later that day, again quite unexpectedly, we found ourselves spending an hour in the company of two holy old priests who I have known for around two decades.

Aside from the various Traditional priests now working in this region, these men could be said to represent the very last of a line of priests who one still used to meet with about twenty years ago: men who grew up before the world went totally crazy; whose homes were secure and filled with faith; whose school education happened before the ''changes''; and whose seminary formation, though becoming shaky, took place largely before those changes wreaked their total devastation there.

As I say, twenty years ago, one still met priests of this sort offering Mass reverently, spreading devotion to Our Lady, praying the Rosary faithfully, caring for souls, spreading the faith and wearing their Roman collars and deepest black clerical attire as a matter of course.

There are a handful of younger clergy with many of these good qualities and the same overall intentions but, like you and me, they have grown up in the midst of the present culture and have gone through school and seminary education in the present era. That has taken its toll on all of us in our development.

Anyway, the two priests we were with yesterday represent, pretty much, the last of their generation. Certainly, of those that I know personally.

And, unexpectedly, there we were as a family spending an hour with them yesterday.

One of them, who has been further tested in the furnace of suffering of late, has spoken to me a few times over the years of one of his former mentors - the late, great convert priest, Fr. Hugh Thwaites. Father has described, in the past, how it was obvious that Fr. Thwaites was holy, because his eyes often sparkled with a love that could only be God's Love.
The late, holy and inspirational Fr. Hugh Thwaites SJ. We met him twice over the years; it was our priest friend's good blessing to have had him as a mentor.

Now, although this priest I was with yesterday has looked increasingly holy for several years now, something happened yesterday that I have never seen before in him.

Or, indeed, in anyone else for that matter.

Whilst I was speaking to him yesterday, I suddenly saw something more than Father in his eyes.

It was as though he was reading my soul; so deeply did he look into it. But it was also as though he were not really focused on me at all. His eyes were sparkling like an innocent baby bird, but seemed also to perceive the very depths of reality. It was as though Christ were loving my soul through him. And, at once, it was as though Father was gazing at God to such an extent that the mess that is my soul was being seen only in the light of that mysterious sight. It was not judgement, not searing in that manner, and yet it was as though Christ Himself were there... Well, I cannot find the words here.

All that can be said is that Father seemed to be, just for a minute, more in the next world than in this. And it gave me great peace to encounter it.

And then it clicked into place again: Heaven Knows!

Yes, God is with us.

Aside from that experience yesterday, just being with those two old-boy priests felt like it did years ago, before 2013, to be a Catholic.

I guess we are all fed up to the back teeth of hearing of clerical apostasy, heresy, sacrilege, blasphemy, sexual immorality, abuse of minors and general worldy indifference. Even more are we troubled by the attempted deconstruction of our holy religion from those who have seized the heights of power.

We're also sick of seeing the smiling indifference of the bright-coated majority, who will traipse off to things like the World Day of Families to hear radical homosexualists like ''Fr.'' James Martin S.J., as though these men were paragons of Catholic virtue.

Yesterday, I was reminded of why I am a Catholic.

Firstly, because of Jesus - Our Blessed Lord Who remains night and day, often at the sullied hands of traitorous clergy, in the Tabernacles of our churches, simply because He is LOVE Itself.

Pure Love.

Totally LOVE.

Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

He Who IS.

In the presence of those old priests and my family yesterday, it felt again like those days before Francis, when one had that feeling of rose-garden security that, no matter how messed up you were, no matter how bad your own diocese or parish was, no matter how evil the world was getting, that at least the Church was your rock.

How often one used to feel that years ago. How comforting it was.

All of us have felt like that.

And yet, now we have only brambles and thorns in its stead.

Friends, this shows we are with Christ. Did we really think such encouraging candy was forever? Sweeties are for children or beginners; hard bread is what we need to nourish us and get us to Heaven. This isn't Santa's Grotto!

One could not have drawn near to Christ, without His thorn-crowned Head piercing into our own. That is the price of loving the Crucified.

The Catholic Church was, is and ever shall be the Rock, the One, True, Church which Christ founded for the salvation and sanctification of souls until the end of time.

And against that Church, the Gates of Hell shall NOT prevail.

So, don't let's hear any of this tosh about how individuals have come to discern that the whole Gregorian reform was a mistake, or how defining papal infallibility was an error, or how Greek or Russian Orthodoxy is the answer.

We are Catholics! The enemy has invaded our position and is taking no prisoners.

Stay with Christ, man up and hold the line. This is a war, not an outing to pick daisy chains.

We have an enemy that is Hate itself, that hates us. On the other hand, we have a Lord Who is LOVE, Who loves us. That is why love of our temporal enemies is so essential. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, Christ's is a love costing no less than everything. And in that price, is our peace.

Make no mistake, at some point, Our Lord is going to call time and pull the rug from beneath these feverish money changers who have sullied His Temple.

In the meantime, He is extending a Crucified Hand and asking us to take hold. We cannot be surprised that His nails will pierce us, or that the shadow of His Cross will fall upon us, if we do so.

Dear friends, 

Heaven Knows!

Yesterday, I was reminded of this.

Today, you have been too.

Keep the Faith, friends in Christ!          
And let's stay close to Our Heavenly Mother, who cares more than you know. 

Our Lady of Victories - Pray for us!

Young UK Catholics Make Statement of Support for Humanae Vitae

Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 11 July 2018 - 13:02:13 | by admin

It was encouraging to learn of the 200 young Catholics, among whom were several married couples, who had signed up to a letter to the Catholic Herald, in support of Humanae Vitae.

An initiative of Michael and Elizabeth Wee, themselves a young married couple, the letter marks another important landmark in this 50th anniversary year of the promulgation of Humanae Vitae. Many readers might recognise the name of Michael Wee, as he is the education officer at the Anscombe Bioethics Centre at Oxford University. Although there was an upper age limit of 35 for those able to sign up to this particular letter, the signatures gathered for it represent young Catholic adults from all over the UK.

And so, in response to a modernistic letter in the Herald, which, in ignorance of the observably prophetic nature of the encyclical, had suggested that Humanae Vitae had somehow failed to engage with social change, the Catholic letter read:

It has been suggested that Catholic teaching on contraception has ''failed to engage with social change'' (Letter, June 22). Yet one must not confuse being unfashionable with being untrue.

Living out chastity is countercultural and difficult, but rewarding for relationships.

It reminds us how the person to whom we are attracted is not a thing to be used, but an equal to be loved, honoured and treated with reverence. The philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe rightly observed that ''in this contraceptive day'', however, sex becomes seen as ''no more than a sort of extreme kiss, which it might be rather rude to refuse.''

At the heart of chastity is the simple yet revolutionary idea that we are made for love, and our sexuality has been given to us in order to fulfil this call. Hence, as Pope Francis puts it, ''The image of God is the married couple.'' Sex can never be truly casual, because it is so inherently filled with meaning - namely, the mutual love of the couple and openness to new life. That is why respecting the integrity of the sexual act matters. It is in allowing sex to convey its full meaning that we can give oneself to one's spouse completely in love.

As young lay Catholics living in Britain who find this teaching on sexuality beautiful and prophetic, we therefore wish to affirm the relevance of Humanae Vitae for our generation - and indeed for generations to come.

It is heartening to witness another generation of young Catholics responding to God's grace in the gift and challenge of chastity; and stepping up to the plate to articulate a defence of chaste love for the people of these times.

May God bless them for it. 

I mean, when you consider all the theological dissent, unchaste rebellion, false teaching and modernistic educational systems, that have so conspired to damage the Church during these last five decades, these guys are nothing short of a theological miracle! It just goes to show the everlasting appeal of the truth.

As Pope Benedict XVI said when presenting a prayer for the youth of Italy, in St. Peter's Basilica, in February 2007: ''The Church is alive and full of youth!''  

May the Holy Family - Pray for us!

Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, Dolgellau

Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 10 July 2018 - 18:28:43 | by admin

The stone bridge over the Mawddach River at Llanelltyd, near Dolgellau, in the awesome Snowdonia region of North Wales. The present bridge dates to the second quarter of the 18th-Century. There is documentary evidence of an earlier bridge in the late 17th-Century. Also, histories relating to the nearby ruins of Cymer Abbey mention a bridge in the area as early as 1400 AD.

I've been meaning to post up some pictures from our recent vacation in Snowdonia. Here's a few to be going on with.

During our stay, we found the Catholic parish church of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in the town of Dolgellau. There is a small Carmelite convent, just outside the town, which is also served from there. 
The west front of the church, featuring its large Italian, sculpted crucifix and impressive Romanesque doorway. Interestingly, this doorway is thought to have been inspired by the one at the famous Cormac's chapel, on the Rock of Cashel near the south-west coast of Ireland; an incredible monastic ruin, which we recently pictured here.

The church is constructed in the Romanesque style from local rock-faced grey stone topped with a locally sourced slate roof.

With its aisles, arches, rounded pillars, lunette windows and apsidal chapels, one could be forgiven for thinking that the fine church was built long ago. However, it is refreshing to learn that its construction only began in 1963; with the consecration of the church taking place as late as 1970. I describe that as refreshing, because this noble little church managed to buck that awful trend, which was at that time sweeping throughout the Western world, of constructing ugly-looking modernistic church buildings; which were themselves so cut off from authentically Catholic architectural and liturgical tradition.

Having entered the Dolgellau church at the west door, one can turn to the right and view the well-lit Lady chapel, with its beautiful statue of Our Lady, Help of Christians. Notice, here the splendid cut-stone forming the Romanesque archways. 
At right-angles to the Lady Chapel, and seen jutting out as an apse-ended chapel to the right of the front-door in the street picture above, is the Baptistry. 
In a neat bit of artistic theological expression, the Baptistry actually has seven windows, to represent the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost.

It is great to see the Baptistry still in use at the back of the church like this. This continues the ancient Catholic tradition of welcoming catechumens symbolically at the back of the church; drawing them into the Faith through the waters of Baptism; and then leading them into the main church for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and other sacraments. Such liturgical movement and meaning is too often lost in modern times, when some priests and architects insist on repositioning baptismal fonts even on the sanctuary; thus confusing and obscuring the meaningful historical practice.

Moving forward from these rear chapels into the main church was quite a numinous experience on the days of our visits, because the parish priest had beautiful Gregorian chant playing in the background.

We found that the church, with its traditional architecture, altar-rails, raised sanctuary and centrally located Tabernacle and stone altar, was a very peaceful place to remain in silent prayer before Our Blessed Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  
It is nice to see an apsidal sanctuary like that these days. There was also a traditional looking crucifix over the sanctuary, a hanging baldachino, hanging bronze crown of thorns and Italian screens with gates set at the sides of the sanctuary; these latter made from brass. There is another chapel at the sanctuary end of the church, which is dedicated to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Apparently, whilst the rugged stone of the building is locally sourced Welsh material, the stone in the altars is from the Holy Land.

The story of the parish at Dolgellau is remarkable in itself. There had been no Catholic parish priest in the area since the Protestant revolt in the 16th Century. In 1928, a young priest arrived from Malta to help locals and visitors to receive the sacraments. His name was Fr. Francis Scalpell (1895-1970).

The first Masses were offered in a local stable, which was later extended into a fish and chip shop, with the help of some Italian prisoners of war. Over the decades, Fr. Scalpell is thought to have written over 25,000 letters, in order to raise funds for the growing community of local Catholics to have a small church built in the town.

In the early 1960's an anonymous donor gave sufficient funds for construction to begin, with the proviso that the new church be built to harmonise with the local mountainous environment.

It is quite moving to think that Fr. Scalpell died in 1970, the year of the church's consecration. It is as though he could rest once the job was done.

One of the days that we visited to pray would have been my late Dad's birthday. Being also the month of the Sacred Heart, and as Mum used to always light candles for her family members before suffering her stroke, we went over to light a candle for Dad before the fine Sacred Heart statue in the church.
We had a nice little thing happen on the way in which, although obviously subjective and the kind of thing that many would scoff at, I'm taking it as a little sign of God's Providential care.

We had been delayed by traffic on the main bridge into the town and this meant that we were a little later than planned. However, it also meant that, as we drove towards the church, a car pulled in front of us with a private registration featuring the letters ''KEN''. God rest him, that was my dad's name. Private registrations are reasonably rare to begin with, and I've never seen one with those letters before, so I'll chalk that one up to Providence. Especially as we were going there specifically to pray for his soul on his birthday date. 

Funnily enough, a few days later it was Father's Day here in the UK and we were by then back on Merseyside. We were driving into the cemetery where Dad is buried to put fresh flowers on Dad's grave, and to say some prayers for him, when another vehicle came towards us with yet another private registration bearing the legend, ''KEN''. So, I took that as another little sign of God's loving care!

I'll tell you what, though, even though we have been back home a few weeks, I'm still missing that beautiful view across the forests to the majestic Cadir Idris mountain peaks, which we had from the lounge window and garden of our summer holiday cottage... 
I always was a country boy at heart!

Psalm 94:2: The Lord will not cast off His people. For in His hands are all the ends of the earth, and He beholds the heights of the mountains.

Keep the Faith!

More Great Things!

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 09 July 2018 - 14:19:18 | by admin

1. All Ireland Rally for Life in Belfast
The next generation of young pro-lifers lead from the front at the start of Saturday's All Ireland Rally for Life, at Stormont in Belfast.

Thousands of pro-lifers made the best of the continuing heat wave on Saturday, to join the All Ireland Rally for Life at Stormont's Parliament Buildings in Belfast.

The key message of the lastest rally in Northern Ireland was to tell the Government and the rest of the world that the remaining 6 counties certainly will NOT be next in accepting abortion.

Indeed, the sending of that central message provided an opportunity for the staging of a neat bit of parody.

You'll likely remember that disturbing moment when the pro-abortion mob was ''celebrating'' the defeat of the pro-life 8th Amendment in Dublin. In the midst of that dreadful spectacle, Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill and Mary Lou McDonald had triumphantly held aloft an improvised cardboard sign announcing, The North is Next.

Well, this time around, in Belfast, Precious Life's Bernadette Smyth and the Life Institute's Niamh Ui Bhriain stood together with similar-looking signs, which instead proclaimed the following counter message...     
I must say, women look far more naturally feminine defending babies, than celebrating the advance of abortion and the uncharitable death culture.

It was also heartening to see Belfast's courageous Fr. Patrick McCafferty standing up as a keynote speaker at Saturday's event.

Fr. McCafferty had already been in the media, because he had warned that those who had voted to bring in abortion to the Republic of Ireland had committed a grave sin; thus endangering their immortal souls and requiring repentance and sacramental absolution. He had also noted that such people could no longer consider themselves as Catholics. Father had also vowed to stand and pray and witness outside of abortuaries in order to strive to persuade people not to kill their children.  
As ever with these events, it is always encouraging to see another generation of young people, especially those who may be called to be mothers themselves someday, standing up to defend and build a Culture of Life.
If you look closely at this next picture below, there is a lady in a red-coloured top, close to the right hand edge of the image, who looks to be praying.

This is a reminder to us all that the pro-life struggle is, at heart, a spiritual battle; which can thus only be defeated by primarily spiritual means, from and to which all true pro-life activism needs to flow. 
In that sense, it was good to see that Saturday's event included a Mass for the Catholic attendees at 12 noon. It is also good to see so many folks over there standing up for life, and listening to good quality pro-life speakers.

Please keep Northern Ireland in your prayers, so that the province can remain abortion free and so that babies can live and grow there in peace.

2. Latin Mass Society Pilgrimage - St. Winefride's Well.

Do please take a look at Mr. Kevin Jones' splendid collection of photographs from the recent annual pilgrimage of the Latin Mass Society to St. Winefride's Well in Holywell, North Wales. Again, my placing up of these pictures here does not in any way mean that Mr. Jones, the LMS, or for that matter anyone else featured in this piece, in any way shares in my far-out, boat-rocking and outspoken views! No, these are good people who get on with the job in hand - doing their level best to ensure provision of the Traditional Latin Mass in their localities and praying faithfully for the Church and for souls in these times.
As ever, the annual event was focused on the Traditional Latin Mass offered in the fine St. Winefride's church in the town. This was another year that we could not get to Holywell and it has been helpful for us to be able to view such good pictures of the event. I reckon that Mr. Jones should take up professional photography! I am going to try and get a working link going to the LMS Wrexham site on our links page ASAP.
Some of the ICKSP's Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus, together with the Schola Gregoriana Malverniensis, provided the music for Holy Mass. It is so heartening for Catholics to see such traditional religious sisters helping to provide worthy liturgical worship like this.

The good priests of the ICKSP led the day with the offering of the Traditional Latin Mass, followed by a procession to St. Winefride's ancient Holy Well to venerate the sacred relic of the great saint.     
Dominus meus, et Deus meus!
St. Winefride's is a bright and beautiful church and a worthy setting for the celebration of Holy Mass.
The procession then led from the church and down to the Holy Well; with various diocesan and religious priests leading the people in praying the Holy Rosary.
Veneration of St. Winefride's relic followed at the well side, in the 16th-Century, Late Perpendicular Gothic chapel.
If you ever get chance to go to St. Winefride's Well, and we highly recommend that you do, this is a marvellous place to kneel and pray the Litany of St. Winefride; which is posted up at the foot of the graceful statue of the saint.
Please pray to St. Winefride today for a restoration of chastity in our culture and for the work of the LMS - especially there in Wrexham.

3. Traditional Ordinations 
Just staying with Mr. Jones' website for a moment, do also take a look at his splendid set of pictures from the recent ICKSP ordinations in the Tuscan city of Florence.
His Eminence, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke was in the beautiful church of Ss Michael and Cajetan, to ordain four deacons to the sacred priesthood for the ICKSP.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordelione of San Francisco was also in the ancient city to ordain five men as deacons and fourteen as sub-deacons in the traditional rite. 
It has been another good year for traditional ordinations and, if I am doing my sums right (I get a slightly different number than, say, the figures quoted in The Remnant), there have been, or will be by summer's end, 16 new priests for the FSSP, 8 for the ICKSP, 4 for the Institute of the Good Shepherd, and also some 16 for the SSPX. Indeed, last week, 1 Peter 5 reported that 20% of the ordinations in France this year were traditional ordinations.

Although in global terms these remain rather small numbers overall, they do still demonstrate the power of the traditional rite to generate life in the Church, when tradition is not persecuted or otherwise restricted. That is not rocket science, of course, as this was always the Mass of Ages!

Please keep all those men in your prayers to be good, faithful and holy priests.

4. FSSP Ordination in the Archdiocese of Liverpool  
One of the great things in these times has been Archbishop Malcolm McMahon's establishment of the FSSP church of St. Mary's in the town of Warrington. That beautiful church has seen ordinations in the traditonal rite now for two summers in a row. Last year's, was actually the first in the Traditional Rite in these lands since the liturgical changes took place decades ago.

Please do pray for Fr. Seth Phipps who was ordained there recently, and for all the FSSP priests who are caring for souls over there in Warrington. The FSSP now have a total of 8 priests serving in the UK. Don't forget to watch their daily Masses via LiveMass. There are also some great presentations on-line, which have been used in the Liverpool Archdiocese in preparation for the upcoming Adoremus - National Eucharistic Pilgrimage and Congress, which will take place in Liverpool this September. The videos of these can also be viewed at LiveMass and include clear and solid teachings on such key themes as: Transubstantiation; Concomitance; Fragments; and Presence. Don't miss out on viewing these, wherever you are! 

5. Local Feast of Ss Thomas More and John Fisher 
Today is marked locally in England and Wales, as a local feast for the celebration of Ss Thomas More and John Fisher; those heroes of the Faith who died in defence of the truths and rights of the Church, the truths of an upright conscience and the truths of holy matrimony.

Please ask these great saints to intercede for our nation - I think you'll agree that we certainly need their prayers in these days!

Ss Thomas More and John Fisher - Pray for us!

There are many good things still happening - Keep the Faith - Y'all!!!

Consecration to the Precious Blood of Jesus

Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 08 July 2018 - 13:39:11 | by admin

The Te Deum, verse 20-21: We pray Thee, therefore, help Thy servants: whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood. Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints in glory everlasting.

Some years ago, we were across the sea praying quietly in the shrine of Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, when a humble little gentleman approached us. He told us that his brother was a Catholic priest and gave us a small red prayer card. Upon that card was a copy of the Consecration to the Precious Blood of Jesus.

We share that again here today to help readers in their own devotions during this month of July; dedicated as it is to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Consecration to the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ

O Precious Blood of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I consecrate myself and all the days of my life to Your love and worship. I place myself and my loved ones in a special manner under Your powerful protection, begging that Your blessing may always rest upon us.

Most Precious Blood of Jesus, be our light in darkness, our strength in temptation, our consolation in sorrow, our passport to Heaven, and the eternal object of our praise and love.


When Life is Made Cheap - The Normalization of Euthanasia

Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 07 July 2018 - 14:43:53 | by admin

This week has seen the 70th-anniversary of the British National Health Service (NHS) and the mainstream media has been replete with anecdotes, landmark moments and potted histories. As a British national pastime, debating the merits and demerits of the NHS seems at times to come only second to talking about the weather; and it has been interesting this week to witness the NHS being critiqued in other countries in light of this big anniversary.

The NHS's 70th-anniversary has certainly been thrown into sharp relief by the state-enforced euthanasia of little Alfie Evans, the sheer scale of the latest abortion statistics and the shocking news emerging from both the Gosport War Memorial and Countess of Chester hospitals. In the former, it seems from an independent investigation that some 650 people died prematurely through the practice of lethal opiate, whilst in the latter a young nurse is under investigation, suspected of murdering 8 babies and attempting to murder another 6 babies.

And although I must reiterate the excellent standard of care that we received in our local hospital the other night, it is also the case that I will never be able to think of the NHS in the same way after the dreadful case of little Alfie Evans and his courageous family.

For that matter, neither will I be able to think in the same way of the present crop of Bishops of England and Wales after that case, which was all beyond tragic.

At the time, I said that Alfie Evans had exposed the hearts of many, the good and the bad, for all to see. We were all certainly given a disturbing insight into just how much euthanasia has now been generally accepted in our post-modern society.

And that, even in its non-voluntary form...

The shocking official statement of the Bishops of England and Wales - made even worse by the overt support given by both Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Malcolm McMahon to the courts and health care system, over and against the natural rights of the parents, the basic right to oxygen, nutrition and fluid, and even against the fundamental right to life itself - made it abundantly clear just how much the phenomenon we might term ''euthanasia creep'' had seeped even into the Church.

Just plain terrible!

Of course, all of that goes against the true teachings expounded so clearly in the much ignored and prophetic encyclical, Evangelium Vitae.

The way in which acceptance of euthanasia has silently flooded both society and the Church reminds me of some cousins of mine who used to live on some marshy land near to the Fylde Coast. One night, the water table rose dramatically and invisibly, until it suddenly overwhelmed their land and flooded their outdoor Guinea pig hutches. When the family awoke the next morning, they were shocked to find their drowned pets floating in their water-logged pens.

It seems to me that the general acceptance of euthanasia has similarly crept up on us and now threatens to overwhelm and even kill us; certainly that looks true of its inundation of the Church. Then again, the warning sirens were already loudly ringing several years ago, when the likes of Liverpool's Bishop Tom Williams spoke of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) as ''God's work''.

About 18 years ago, Angie and I shared in a collective gasp, followed by a moment of incredulity, when a man at a pro-life conference in London suggested that hundreds of people were already dying every year in the UK, due to the ''hidden'' practice of euthanasia caused by misuse of sedatives and dehydration.

Yet, no-one would question his statement today. Indeed, the numbers involved, even in just the Gosport case alone, now make that gentleman's claim look decidedly conservative.

Still, Gosport and Chester surely represent unique extremities? Well, I would suggest that they are not unlinked to the much wider and deeper cultural acceptance of euthanasia in general.

And, as with atheism, divorce, cohabitation, LGBT issues and mass immigration, it seems that acceptance of euthanasia has become socially normative at a very rapid rate in the last two decades. I still remember people around 2003 being up in arms at the very mention of attempts to get pro-euthanasia bills pushed through parliament. But since then, softened up by sad stories of ''hard cases'' in the news, soap-opera programming (quite literally!), peer pressure and a general loss of meaning in life, many people have come to see some form of euthanasia as being somehow OK if that's what you want.

A few weeks ago, Angie was talking to a woman she knows, who is in so many ways very counter-cultural by the standards of these times. And yet, even this old-school lady shocked Angie by suddenly stating her support for euthanasia ''in certain circumstances''. When Angie instead put forth the Catholic teaching, this lady offered the typically post-modern, ''Well, I see where you are coming from, and it's nice that you have those beliefs, but for those who do not have such hope, euthanasia may be the only way.''

Welcome to the desert of the real!

And whilst this lady represented the kind of ''soft liberalism'' that tranquilly ''tolerates difference'', there are signs that the harder form, which more typically represents post-modernity and isn't so ''liberal'' after all, is making inroads; with pro-lifers being labelled as ''uncaring'' or ''unfeeling'' just for thinking euthanasia is wrong.

Indeed, Angie and I were both very disappointed recently when the mainstream author of a library book we were both sharing, on the theme of dementia and healthcare, suddenly announced her firm support for ''death with dignity''. In case anyone hasn't heard of it, that is a spooky euphemism for euthanasia.

Even more disturbing than these examples however, was a conversation Angie had with a paramedic just this week.

A paramedic mind you!

When speaking of the huge numbers of elderly dementia sufferers abandoned in nursing homes for the elderly in our country today, this fellow looked morosely downwards and ominously reflected that, if he were ever to find himself facing such a situation, then there would be ''alternatives''.

Of course, this kind of chilling nihilism is just another of the poisonous fruits of a society which has rejected the loving God and the Church He established for our salvation and sanctification. Without God people are becoming increasingly desperate and lonely.

One aspect of all of this is that fundamentally good people are being wounded in terrible ways, which then leave them feeling unloved and alone.

Several years ago, Angie and I shared a pot of tea and some shortbread with a lady who had been very mistreated by men in her life; first her real husband who had mercilessly cheated on her, and then another man with whom she had attempted ''marriage'', before he too had cleared off and left her alone. This lady was not a Catholic, but was kind, hardworking and very open to talking about Our Blessed Lord.

Having been so hurt in this life, this soul admitted that, if she were ever to be diagnosed with a terminal illness, then she would just retreat into the solitude of her own home with a large supply of champagne and cigarettes.

Sad as they are, all of these above-mentioned approaches are a far cry from the way in which our forebears dealt with death and dying.

Just to give one example, the monks in the medieval monasteries used to sound a wooden ''clapper'' if any of the brethren were about to die. This would bring the rest of the community running to aid the dying religious with their presence, prayers and practical support. They would also sing the Te Deum for the departing soul. Interestingly, this is where the expression ''to run like the clappers!'' originates.

One of the perversions of our age, of which there are many, is the corrupted application of the concept and terminology of ''death with dignity'' to the evil of euthanasia.

Whereas, in reality, the real meaning of dying with dignity, is to die prepared to go to God; having lived in a state of grace, loved and supported by one's family and companions, and accompanied with the sacraments and prayers of Holy Church.

During those hard final days of Alfie Evans' court battles, there was at least one lone voice from among the Bishops of England and Wales which, blink and you'd have missed it, at least made some support for Alfie and his family; albeit being only one somewhat vague ''tweet'' on twitter, and even this made only after Alfie had received Italian citizenship.

Still, at least it was something done by a bishop of these isles to distance himself from the general acquiescence in state sponsored and heavily enforced euthanasia.

I speak, of course of Bishop Philip Egan's tweet, which posted on 23rd April read: ''Let's offer heartfelt prayers today for little Alfie Evans - now an Italian citizen - and his courageous parents. If there is anything at all that can be done, may the Lord enable us to do it.''
His Lordship, who has frequently demonstrated good pro-life support in the past, has been back in the news again this week, in light of the tragic news emerging from the Gosport War Memorial Hospital, which is in the area of his Portsmouth diocese.

According to Crux News, Bishop Egan spoke of the NHS in terms of, ''a huge blessing, but we must ever be vigilant to the policies, values, priorities and procedures that operate within it.''

The Crux report made clear that the bishop was well aware that over-sedation and dehydration of patients was commonplace in too many places these days. His Lordship called for a review of geriatric and end-of-life care ''in relation to fundamental moral principles.''

Again, His Lordship sounded a clear warning that it was ''not morally permissable until the very last to withdraw feeding and hydration.''

Given the prevalence of pro-euthanasia views these days, and the shocking levels of sedation abuse, witnessed so clearly for example at Gosport, it was heartening to hear Bishop Egan reflecting that, ''if you or a loved one is terminally ill, consider whether it might be practicable to die at home.''

This really brings us to the heart of the matter, because although euthanasia is becoming increasingly acceptable to the mainstream, many people are at the same time feeling more and more anxious in a society in which euthanasia is so acceptable.

It all reminds me of a priest who warned that, within a few years of euthanasia becoming ''legal'' in the Netherlands, people of retirement age were begging ambulance drivers not to take them into hospital after accidents.

Any healthcare system can only ever be a reflection of the society in which it has grown and in which it functions. If you have a Catholic civilization, the care will be Catholic; if your society is atheistic, then the care system will increasingly take on that tone also. If your society values efficiency, money and vitality above individuals, thus preferring things to persons, then your health system will increasingly reflect that too.

In the times of the medieval monasteries, healthcare was provided on the model of treating the sick, the vulnerable and the traveller as though they were Christ. Obviously, that is going to have a positive impact on your standards and levels of care!

When St. Padre Pio first opened his new hospital in Pietrelcina, patients were brought in accompanied by candles. In parts of Ireland, there are still hospitals with chapels set aside for patients on each of the floors. There, too, the residual Catholicism of the culture, although smashed by recent developments, still has influence on the way many doctors and nurses treat people, and on the standards of care that people expect to receive.

There is no other institution in the whole of human history that has cared for so many people, in so many different types of need, in so many disparate cultures, or for so long a period of time, as has the Catholic Church. This alone is one of the most fundamental of the Church's truth claims, and it is one which no one can dismiss lightly.

It is essential that Catholics reclaim the truth about death with dignity as being really about the holy death; the good death at the end of a well lived life in the service of God and neighbour.

Reflecting on the various people who have expressed to us their favour for dying alone with ''alternatives'' leads one to realize that their beliefs follow from an essential loneliness in a society which has rejected God.

People hurt them, they feel unloved, they see no value in suffering and they observe old and vulnerable people suffering alone and seemingly without purpose. And so they really feel despair and seek the seemingly ''easy'' way out.

I think it important that we warn people that to choose the death of euthanasia, certainly if one makes a free and deliberate choice for it, truly endangers one's eternal salvation and gives terrible example to others. There are many people today who think that euthanasia and suicide will end suffering, leading to either extinction or an instant paradise. In reality, and there are even Near-Death-Experience accounts of such things, this kind of choice could very really lead to the eternal suffering of Hell, due to the outright rejection of God and His wonderful gift of life. That is gravely sinful, and mortal sins kill the divine life in the soul. What if such a person chooses death by euthanasia in complete freedom and then has no time to repent?

The real answer to the evil of euthanasia is the love of God and of neighbour.

It is also to find the infinite value that suffering can come to have when it is joined to that of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on the Cross, and strengthened by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In these things, we can all gain from the example and intercession of St. Camillus de Lellis, the early 17th-Century founder of the Order of Clerks Regular, Ministers of the Infirm.   
The large, red cross on the front of the cassocks of this priestly order preceded that of the International Red Cross by hundreds of years. The society of priests which St. Camillus founded became so popular and successful in helping the dying to pass through a holy death, that they became known as the ''Fathers of a Happy Death''.

Here again, we see how the Catholic Church, her members and her teachings have so influenced and shaped our society, before its present-day collapse into atheistic nihilism.

As in so many areas of our post-Christian society, we now have it all to do in terms of rebuilding a Catholic civilization founded on the love and grace of Christ.

And as the old adage has it, this is surely a case where charity begins at home!

St. Camillus de Lellis - Pray for us!

St. Joseph, Patron of a Holy Death - pray for us!

P.S. I read recently that it is important to pray, indeed to implore, Our Lord, Our Lady and St, Joseph every single day for the grace of a happy and holy death in God's service. Let us all begin to do so this very day!

First Saturday Today

Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 07 July 2018 - 08:34:46 | by admin

The central and urgent importance of the message of Fatima, as Heaven's peace plan for salvation, becomes more and more clear with every single day that passes.

As today is the First Saturday of July, let us pray that Our Lady of Fatima will obtain for us all the graces necessary to honour Her requests to keep the devotion of the First Saturdays.

This request, of course, calls the faithful to make reparation, on the First Saturday of the month, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The reparation called for includes a good Confession, worthy Holy Communion, prayer of the Rosary and 15 minute meditation on a mystery of the Rosary.

Our Lady of Fatima - pray for us!

Ss Jacinta and Francesco Marto - pray for us!

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