Pentecost Sunday 2018


Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 20 May 2018 - 20:54:43 | by admin

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The Traditional Missal teaches us that the Church today worships in a special way the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth and holiness, Who endows the True Church of Christ with infallibility in preaching and efficacy in sanctifying.

The vestments in the Holy Mass are red, in memory of the tongues of fire which descended to Our Blessed Lady and the Apostles. In the first centuries, Pentecost was the conclusion of the Easter period, but in the 11th-Century it was made an independent feast, and given an octave, during which the newly-baptized from Easter are traditionally prayed for.

During those years I spent in the seminary, there was a ''recommended reading'' shelf which, though it did contain some good material, was also a means for the unfortunate propagation of writings from the likes of Hans Kung, Richard McBrien, Karl Rahner and Edward Schillebeeckx; as well as some less well known authors who were promoting similarly reductionist ideas, specifically in the fields of Biblical studies, liturgy, sacramental theology and church architecture.

Although these writings were ''recommended'' for the coursework, I avoided most of them; scanning only sufficient material from some of them to pass the courses concerned.

The paucity of good, orthodox reading on that shelf led me to do some extra-curricula reading in my own time, by venturing into the aisles of the well-stocked sections of older Catholic books in the library.

Had I known what I know nowadays, I would have spent a great deal more time in those library aisles reading and learning, and much more time alone in the chapel praying, but they do say that youth is wasted on the young.

Nevertheless, I did make some good use of my time in those years, by becoming familiar with the Christology of the early Church Councils, some of the writings of the Fathers at the Council of Trent, those of the Popes of the 19th - early-20th-Centuries, the history of the Oratorians, John Paul II's Redemptoris Mater and the splendid writings of St. Irenaeus of Lyons (AD 130 - 202).

Thanks be to God, for that priceless opportunity.

I would still say that, for my formation in the Faith, St. Irenaeus' Adversus Haereses (Against All Heresies), together with the early Church Councils, continues to rank among the most important and faith-shaping texts that I have read.

Period.

As such, it seems appropriate on this great feast of Pentecost to provide a short section for the edification and prayer of readers.

St. Irenaeus wrote: ''Therefore the Lord promised to send us the Holy Spirit to make us fit for God's purposes. Just as dry flour cannot coalesce into a lump of dough, still less a loaf, without moisture, soo too we, being many, could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water which comes from Heaven. And just as dry soil cannot bear fruit unless it receives moisture, so we, who to begin with are dry wood, can never bear the fruit of life unless the rain from Heaven falls upon our wills... For our bodies through the water of Baptism have received the unity which leads to freedom from corruption; but our souls have received it through the Holy Spirit.''

On this feast day, and during the holy octave which follows, it can also be very fruitful to spend some time in silence to pray slowly and devotedly through the words of the Veni, Sancte Spiritus; which forms the Sequence in the Traditional Latin Mass for today.

Here, also, is the Postcommunion prayer for Pentecost (Whit Sunday) in the Traditional Latin Mass: May the inpouring of the Holy Spirit purify our hearts, O Lord, and render them fruitful by the sprinkling of His dew over our innermost being. Through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in unity with the same Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

We wish all our readers a blessed and holy feast of Pentecost. May we all receive a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, homes and lives, on the Church and on our society. Amen.

If the principle of ''might makes right'' were to prevail, it would be fatal to any civilised order in the world


Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 20 May 2018 - 13:43:17 | by admin

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3rd September, 1939: King George VI makes his famous ''In this grave hour'' radio speech to the peoples of the British Empire.

The Strange U-Turn on Marriage

We were reflecting in yesterday's article on the mysterious u-turn which had been performed by Fr. James Bradley in an interview with the EWTN-owned Catholic News Agency (CNA). Having first provided a clear articulation of Catholic teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, he basically ended by suggesting that, as we cannot know whether or not Meghan has had her first public marriage declared to have been invalid, then we should simply be happy for her and Prince Harry.

It has to be said that this seems hardly the response of a Catholic priest from the country that gave us St. John Fisher.  

Other Commentary 

This led me last evening to do a little more reading around the subject, in terms of the responses of other Catholic figures here in the UK.

Perhaps I am missing something but, for the most part, Catholic commentary in this country seems to have been, so far, somewhat muted.

There was an article in The Catholic World Report by Joanna Bogle back in April, which asked the question, What are Catholics to make of the Royal Wedding? 

Amongst other issues, Joanna's article did ponder the fact that Meghan Markle was a divorcee. In her final conclusion, she reflected: ''I am not deeply convinced that this royal event will do much to enhance the value or importance of matrimony in modern Britain. But if it gets the topic put on the agenda - replacing the endless promotion of same-sex unions, people being urged to ''self-identify'' as something they are not and can never be, the distribution of contraceptives to schoolchildren, and the use of the classroom for crude videos masquerading as ''sex-education'' - then perhaps it might help to move things in the right direction.''

Well, we would suggest that  yesterday's royal event in itself will not move things in such a direction, but Catholics could certainly raise those issues and thus hopefully move discussions in the right direction in relation to the truths of marriage. 

Vin' Again...

However, as is so often the case in these matters, the Catholic layman trying to spread the Faith in the family, neighbourhood or at the workplace water-cooler, once again finds themselves to be undermined by the words of, none other than, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster...

Altough I have not been able to find any up to date comments from His Eminence, it is widely known that, when the ''Royal Engagement'' was officially announced to the public, back in November 2017, Cardinal Nichols gleefully tweeted: ''I offer my congratulations to Harry and Meghan on the news of their engagement. We pray for their happiness as they prepare to make their life-long commitment to marriage.''

The less observant ''New Evangelists'' would probably have been meekly thankful that the cardinal's words had made some reference to the life-long commitment of marriage. However, the more astute would have wondered how the cardinal's words could be thought logical in light of the fact that Meghan Markle had already made such a ''life-long'' commitment to Trevor Engelson, as recently as 2011.

The cardinal's words are even more troubling than those of Fr. Bradley mentioned above and yesterday, given both the cardinal's elevated position and the fact that he once published a hagiographical account of the life and witness of St. John Fisher!

The Clerical Apologist...

However, another member of the clergy here in England has gone even further than any of this.

Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith is a priest and moral theologian who has done a lot of good things here in England. He is also capable of writing some very thought-provoking and spiritual articles for the reputedly ''conservative'' Catholic Herald.

That being said, I did pull him up here in October, 2016 for writing a piece on Francis' new cardinals which spectacularly omitted to mention their radically Modernist track-records; and which went so far as to day-dream improbably about what could have happened if Francis had made the Anglican ''Archbishop'' Justin Welby into a cardinal!!!

Fr. Lucie-Smith was back on to a similarly bemusing streak this week.

He penned an artice for the Catholic Herald which, under the title, This is the man to watch at the Royal Wedding, wondered about the message which would be preached by the US Episcopal leader Michael Curry and recommended readers not to miss the ceremony; whilst even suggesting that it would be worth viewing for the sake of the music, the beauty of the chapel and to see how the Anglicans rise to the challenges and scale of the ceremonial. ''Don't miss it!'' he concluded.

Catholics looking for some solid information about the fact that Meghan Markle was already married to someone else, would have to look elsewhere than Fr. Lucie-Smith's article.

The responses of Cardinal Nichols, Fr. Lucie-Smith, Fr. Bradley and, by extension, the publishers of the Catholic Herald and Catholic News Agency, invite the all-important question: Do any of these people fully, and without dissembling, actually believe and hold that a valid marriage is indissoluble? That this rules out divorce and precludes ''re-marriage''? In short, are they fully and unequivocally Catholics?

The Principle, Stripped of All Disguise

This being a big royal weekend here in England, with plenty of union flags, bunting, street parties and outdoor barbeques, I would like to stick with the regal theme for a moment and reflect on something which King George VI said in his classical speech at the outbreak of the Second World War.

The King's speech raised the important philosophical and theological matter of the nature of truth and reality. For, if the natural and divine law are denied, then we rapidly descend into a situation wherein might makes right, and the rule of law gives way to that of the jungle. It was the recognition and exposure of this which gave such clear moral authority and inspiration to that enormously motivating speech.

King George spoke of ''a principle, which, if it were to prevail, would be fatal to any civilized order in the world. Such a principle, stripped of all disguise, is surely the mere primitive doctrine that might is right.''
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In this Grave Hour: Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush portray King George VI and Lionel Logue in the movie, The King's Speech.

The King's speech reminds us that Christian civilization is not built on that serpentine principle of might makes right, but rather on the fundamental reality of being and existence; which is ultimately rooted in the natural and divine law.

Recent events in relation to the case of Alfie Evans, combined with the scale of abortion and euthanasia in England today, demonstate just how far our society has fallen since that astute speech was made and so well received by the general public within the British Empire.

The Witness of the English Martyrs

In their day, St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More refused to acknowledge the validity of King Henry VIII's faux divorce and ''re-marriage'' and his claims to be the head of the Church in England. For this they were martyred and made an example of by the unruly king. In English Catholicism, they remain the foundational saints to inspire fidelity to the True Church and to the truths of Holy Matrimony.

Let us conclude with a, perhaps, lesser known witness from two Franciscan priests who also refused to acquiesce in Henry's falsehoods about matrimony and ecclesiology. Their final witness has much to teach us; and also our present-day bishops it would seem.

When threatened with drowning in the River Thames unless they recanted, these courageous martyr friars replied with their final words: ''Threaten such things to rich and dainty folk, which are clothed in purple, fare deliciously, and have their chiefest hopes in this world. We esteem them not. We are joyful that for the discharge of our duty we are driven hence. With thanks to God, we know that the way to Heaven is as short by water as by land, and therefore care not which way we go.''

May the English Martyrs pray for all who read this to be faithful to the true teachings of the Catholic Church on Natural Marriage and on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.     

Don't Worry, Be Happy? When Catholic Apologetics Looks More Like Apologetic Catholics


Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 19 May 2018 - 12:47:50 | by admin

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England's Lake District, July, 1981: During a long cross-country hike, my family came out of the heat of nearby fields and encountered the cool shade of this oasis of tables and patriotic bunting; all of which had been prepared for local villagers to enjoy a celebration of the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

One Summer...

As a boy of just nine years at the time, the 1981 Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer seemed to me like something from a mystical fairytale.

When Lady Diana Spencer, the people of England's own Queen of Hearts, processed blushingly down the aisle of St. Paul's Cathedral, noble and dignified, yet at once shyly humble beneath her white veil, I thought that I would die of love. I guess I've always been a hopeless romantic...

That whole 7-day celebration lives on in my memory as a halcyon week of golden summer days, purple mountains, green hills and deep blue lakes; all topped off with a pageant of regal ceremonial and a high-tea featuring tarts made from strawberries and cream.

Yes, it seemed very heaven to me as a 9 year-old boy to be holidaying with my family in England's majestic Lake District, during that week of the Royal Wedding, in late July, 1981.
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God rest him, my late dad and I rest at the roadside during a cross-country hike on the eve of the 1981 Royal Wedding. With the rest of the family, we were all back at our holiday digs in time to join 750 million people globally, in watching the memorable ceremony on television. Here's looking at you, kid!

When Marriages were Still Commonplace

There was that natural law ''something'' about weddings in general at that time, which still managed to captivate the imaginative wonder of good willed people everywhere.

Throughout the summers of my boyhood in the early 80's, I remember our Saturday games on the local field being frequently punctuated by the shout of ''Look, a wedding!'' This was always the cue for a gaggle of lads with messy hair and grubby knees to charge to the railings of the local church and watch awestruck as virginal brides emerged in tiaras, veils and flowing white gowns, on the arms of their proud and smartly dressed fathers, from Rolls-Royces, Bentleys or, at the very least, a stretched Ford Granada limousine.

Although lads of that age in those days would perhaps have rarely have admitted it, the concept of getting married someday to such princesses was one to which we all would have aspired.

And yet nowadays there is something sadly cynical in our culture about the very notion of marriage and life-long commitment. The typical British summer is now marked by far fewer weddings than in the past. We know some priests who do not witness a single marriage in their churches for 5 years or even more. Even when one does see a wedding today, there are few brides in white, and so many couples have already been married to someone else, or else have been living together with their upcoming spouse - now universally termed a ''partner'' in post-modern Britain (except in our family!) - for so long that their own children often make up the small party of bridesmaids and page-boys. At least, that is when the parties to the ceremony are of different genders...

CNA Reflects...

I was reading an article earlier this morning by the EWTN-owned Catholic News Agency (CNA). This was reflecting on the big news of today's ''Royal Wedding'' between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

From a Catholic perspective, the article ponders the fact that Meghan has already been married and has been civilly divorced from her husband.

The English canon lawyer, Ed. Condon remarks to CNA that, with the new head of the British Supreme Court pushing for ''no-fault divorce'' our nation has gone from one in which, as in the days of the abdicating Edward VIII, a person could not remain as monarch if they attempted marriage with a divorcee, to one in which the Supreme Court itself is pushing for ''no-fault'' divorce.

Condon thus concludes: ''So, it's the complete collapse of marriage as we see in America and the rest of the West.''

The CNA article then turns to Fr. James Bradley, a convert from Anglicanism, who provides some input on the constitutional issues and on the changing rules of the Anglican church.

Fr. Bradley's contribution to the CNA article turns next to Catholic teaching on the matrimonial bond.

It must be said that, at least at the outset, he does this very clearly and well. Alas, as a piece of Catholic apologetic, his conclusion does not look so clearly orthodox.

And so, there is a timely reminder that couples who make vows to one another are bound together in marriage before God. This forms a bond which cannot be broken in this life.

Fr. Bradley next quotes the clear teaching of the Catechism in CCC 1614, which sets forth the fact of the indissolubility of marriage.

Following from this, Fr. Bradley discusses the sacramentality of marriages between two baptized persons.

He also points out that, again in full accordance with Catholic teaching, Markle would not be free to marry if her first marriage were valid. If valid, it would need to have been declared invalid by an annulment, or declaration of nullity.

Again, Fr. Bradley acknowledges that, as it is part of natural law for a man and woman to make a life-long commitment to each other, then the Catholic Church presumes the validity of all marriages.

At this point, many Catholic readers, like myself, would perhaps be about to reach for the morning cuppa and move on to other duties.

Doing a U-turn?

However, Fr. Bradley then seems to do a spectacular back-step from all he has just asserted with this quite remarkable statement about Markle's earlier marriage commitment and subsequent divorce. He suggests: ''That having been said, we don't know any of the details of that union, or if a canonical process is under way regarding it. Catholics should, I would suggest, understand the royal engagement the same way they would the marriage of any two people they don't know personally: be happy for them.''

Whilst Fr. Bradley's first explanations have done so much to affirm the authentic Catholic teaching with regard to the foundational marriage bond, it does appear quite singular for him to then perform a sudden hand-brake turn to reach such a, ''Dont worry, be happy!'' type of conclusion.

In Liverpool parlance, he's ''done a uw-ey!'' And an astonishing one at that.

I do wonder sometimes whether Catholic Apologetics is not beginning to look a lot more like Apologetic Catholics...

Later today I will go about my duties, whilst motoring past local royal wedding street parties in the car. As I do so, whilst mentally noting that truth does not change with time, I will probably also find myself reflecting that 2018 is not 1981.

Ah, to be sure, that was a halcyon summer...
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The road around Lake Derwent looking back towards the town of Keswick, during Royal Wedding Week in July, 1981. My parents, siblings and I walked right around the lake from Keswick and back again in time for tea. We spotted these fine vintage cars on the return leg, during the afternoon. Maybe it was the proximity of the Royal Wedding, maybe it was because I had just tried to quench my raging thirst with a can of ultra-dry Ginger Beer, but the events of that hot afternoon seem so clear in my memory as to have happened only yesterday. Ah yes, ''Mum I'm thirsty!'' seemed to be the very slogan of that holiday; as we hiked around Lake Derwent one day, walked to Watendlath on another, (made famous by Hugh Walpole), and reached the summit of Skiddaw before heading home. Looking back, it does seem like those were the last days of a culture that could still in any way be termed ''Christian England''. Please pray for our nation, for Harry and also for Meghan, and for the truths of Holy Matrimony on this day.

Our Lady of Walsingham - Pray for us!

Oh, good St. George of England - Pray for us!

Please Keep Praying for Alfie Evans' Family


Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 19 May 2018 - 09:57:48 | by admin

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I know many of you will still be praying for Tom, Kate and all of Alfie's family anyway.

The reason I ask for extra prayers is because I've just spotted this very sad bit of news, which has been posted up at the page of Alfie's Army.

As folks around Merseyside will know, a tree was set aside in Springfield Park, near to Alder Hey Hospital, for people to have as a focus for the placing of memorial tributes to Alfie. Over the last couple of weeks people have come from all over the UK to do just that; with many people spending some quiet time there to say prayers, light candles in storm lanterns, place supportive messages and leave behind balloons, teddy bears and colourful little windmills. As such, it has been a place where people can express something of their love and grief, whilst feeling themselves to be part of a community.

One of the official admin' members has posted: ''We are sorry to have been made aware of people stealing gifts left for Alfie at his memorial tree. Army members left various gifts for our beautiful fighter and this breaks not only our hearts, but Alfie's family's hearts that some people have done this extremely disrespectful act.''

Excuse me for saying it, but this is quite simply low-life behaviour.

Let's keep Alfie's loved ones in our prayers at Holy Mass this weekend. Perhaps it would be good for us all to pray for the culprits to have a change of heart akin to those characters we described in Wisconsin earlier this week.

God bless - Alan.  

Worldly Glory is Transitory, but the Catholic Faith Endures


Torch of The Faith News on Friday 18 May 2018 - 10:06:41 | by admin

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Angeline maintains a camouflaged look-out for pursuivants outside of the historical Baddesley Clinton manor house!

Remembering the Catholic Martyrs

We reflected yesterday on the need to remember the faithful witness of the Catholic martyrs who died for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the One True Faith, which was established by Christ for the salvation and sanctification of souls until the end of time.

As an aid to this kind of remembrance, it seems a good time to re-post an updated version of an article on the English martyrs, which first appeared here in the summer of 2015.

Baddesley Clinton Manor House

The moated manor house of Baddesley Clinton, in the pleasant area 8 miles to the north of Warwick, is steeped in Catholic history.

The house is thought to originally date to the 13th-Century. During the 1400's, one of the owners is said to have murdered the local Catholic priest in the house. By God's grace, he repented of this sacrilegious crime and did penance by extensively restoring the local parish church of St. Michael. In that era of the Late Middle Ages, Baddesley Clinton was a moated manor, which was fortified with gunports and a draw-bridge over the moat. To this day, the moat remains to the rear of the property.

Through marriage, the house passed into the Ferrers family in 1517. In the 1590's, during the era when English Protestantism gained its hegemony over the populace, Henry Ferrers leased the property out to two strongly Catholic recusants: Anne Vaux and her widowed sister, Eleanor Brooksby.

In this period, the state had become extremely hostile to the Catholic Church and to those who continued to practice the ''old'' True Faith. The machinery of the Elizabethan persecution had driven the Catholic Church underground; outlawing the Sacred Priesthood and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, whilst inflicting heavy penalties on those who refused to attend the Protestant supper services.

Catholic priests who were discovered in the realm, together with those who directly sheltered them, could face torture and execution. By the end of Queen Elizabeth I's reign, some 123 Catholic priests and over 60 lay people had been executed. Countless more had endured imprisonment, heavy fines, mockery and social exclusion for keeping the Faith.

Clearly, Anne Vaux and Eleanor Brooksby were running huge risks when they began to shelter priests and allow the Baddesley Clinton manor house to be used as a venue for secret offerings of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

We must remember that those risks were heightened by the fact that the Elizabethan government actively pursued priests and their accomplices by the use of a network of spys and infamous priest-hunters like the diabolically cruel torturer, Mr. Richard Topcliffe.

Jesuit Missions

These two good sisters were not the only ones running high risks at Baddesley Clinton.

Scattered at secret locations throughout the country were a number of Jesuit mission priests, under the prudent leadership of Fr. John Gerard, SJ. The dangers they faced made it necessary for them to endure long periods of isolation from their Jesuit brethren.

Once every two years, the Jesuits would come together for a clandestine conference. These biannual meetings had both spiritual and practical purposes. They provided mission priests with a forum to discuss strategy, make future plans and share important information and news. More deeply, they enabled them to make their confessions, receive ongoing formation in the sophisticated Jesuit spirituality and simply enjoy some fraternity with brother priests.

The Baddesley Clinton  Conference

During October, 1591, a number of Jesuit priests and seminarians quietly converged on Baddesley Clinton for one of these biannual conferences. The time had been carefully chosen to coincide with a political election, in order to provide greater security; it was hoped that the leaders of the priest-hunters, known as pursuivants, would hopefully be engaged with other state matters for a couple of weeks.

Among those travelling to the secret meeting was the talented Jesuit lay-brother, Nicholas Owen. Known as ''Little John'', Owen had used his remarkable gifts for lateral thinking and carpentry to construct elaborate ''priest-holes'' to hide Catholic priests in the houses of the various recusant Catholic families dotted around the English countryside. Should such houses suffer the misfortune of a raid by pursuivants, the priests could be swiftly secreted away in these hiding places until the search was called off.
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At Baddesley Clinton, St. Nicholas Owen had devised three good hiding places: one small room accessed through a secret wooden panel in the moat room; another in a hidden ceiling space; and a third in a narrow sewage channel. This last hiding place ran under the entire length of the southwest wing of the house. It was accessed via a rope hanging in a garderobe shaft, which was itself hidden within the thickness of a wall.
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The dark sewage channel was obviously not an ideal place in which to spend any length of time; in addition to its primary purpose, it lacked access to any fresh air and was even lapped by water from the moat up to ankle-depth. Although this space was long enough to conceal up to a dozen men, they would have to crouch beneath the ceiling's 4ft maximum height.

The Raid on the House

At the conclusion of the conference, on the 14th October, 1591, some of the Jesuits saddled their horses and left after dinner. Source documents reveal that, early on the morning of the 15th October, before the remaining priests could leave, a team of pursuivant priest-hunters suddenly descended for a raid on the house.

Fr. John Gerard wrote of this frightening raid: ''I was making my meditation. Fr. Southwell was beginning Mass and the rest were at prayer, when suddenly I heard a great uproar outside the main door. Then I heard a voice shouting and swearing at a servant who was refusing them entrance.''

Fr. Southwell quickly slipped out of his Mass vestments, stripped the home altar bare and joined the others in hiding their belongings. They each turned their still-warm mattresses over, so that it would not be apparent that their beds had been slept in. Whilst the anxious Eleanor Brooksby was hidden at the top of the house, Anne Vaux bought some extra time for everyone by standing on her rights as an aristocratic lady at the front door. She demanded to be treated by the pursuivants with socially correct deference to her hierarchical social position, before allowing them entry to her home.

By the time the priest-hunters had gained entry and begun to ransack the house in their destructive haste, five Jesuit priests, two seminarians and up to three servants were hiding in the unpleasant sewage channel beneath the house.

As their hearts raced at the sound of beds being overturned, furniture being manhandled and wooden panels being beaten above their heads, these holy men must have wondered at the grim dangers the entire Jesuit mission in England then faced.

The Gravity and Context of this Particular Raid
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Fr. Henry Garnet SJ: When Fr. Garnet was eventually executed on the Feast of the Cross in 1606, a bloodstained husk of straw was found, which was said to bear a likeness to the martyred priest. This relic from the scene of execution was taken to the Continent by the Society of Jesus, but lost during the French Revolution. 

Some of the greatest names in  Jesuit history had gathered at Baddesley Clinton for that particular conference of 1591. Henry Garnet, John Gerard, Robert Southwell, Edward Oldcorn, Thomas Lister, Richard Holtby and Nicholas Owen; these had all been present.

If the raiders had discovered the Jesuits that morning, almost the entire network, which had taken years to establish and develop, would have been destroyed in just one hour. Although captured priests rarely gave away any secrets, there was always the additional danger that bitter tortures might lead to still further arrests.

By God's grace, the pursuivants never did find any of the assembled Jesuits on that day. Instead, Anne Vaux served them breakfast and somebody paid them a bribe of 12 pieces of gold to call off the search after a period of time. Only after four hours had elapsed did the hidden men emerge from their lowly hiding place.

Fr. John Gerard later spoke of their experience in Biblical terms, as being like those of Daniel in the den with the lions. Indeed, not a few Catholics during that dangerous period interpreted their times through an Apocalyptic lens. They thought that the suppression of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass meant that they were then living through the times prophesied in the book of Daniel. Of course, we now know that they were not; but those times do need to be seen as a forerunner of what must come to pass on an even larger scale before the final return of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The raid at Baddesley Clinton marked a watershed in the history of the Jesuit mission. During the actual days of that hidden conference, Queen Elizabeth signed into law a new proclamation that further divided those who wished to be loyal to Christ in the Catholic Church, from those seeking loyalty to the queen.

Although it was the sincere faith of the martyrs that, like their ancestors before them, they could be loyal subjects of both, the signing of this newly unjust law precluded such a peace. The updated law meant that the pursuit of Catholic priests and their co-operating flocks would be intensified. From then on, the updated law and the terrors of the Baddesley Clinton raid meant that it was simply too dangerous for so many priests to meet together in one place in Elizabethan England.

Legacy

Fr. Robert Southwell was eventually caught and tortured by the evil Mr. Richard Topcliffe. He was martyred in 1595. In 1606, following a brutal clampdown in the wake of the Gunpowder Plot, Fr. Edward Oldcorne, Fr. Henry Garnet and that great craftsman of the priest-holes, Nicholas Owen, were all martyred.

The gruesome practice of hanging, drawing and quartering, whilst the victim was still conscious, should make every person of good will examine the real origins of English Protestantism and its early implementation; and thus also gain some knowledge of the foundations of today's post-modern culture as well as the strictures of a heavily surveilled society.

In addition to the actual theological, philosophical, cultural and long-term historical issues, study of these English Protestant origins would surely lead many people of good will to conclude with Bl. Cardinal John Henry Newman, that to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.

Certainly, every English man and woman should be given the opportunity to discover the Catholic Faith, which is the true birthright which has been denied to them by the Protestant Revolt and the subsequent decline into atheistic post-modernity.

Nothing other than the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Christ can absolutely assure one's eternal salvation and sanctification. It was because the ''old'' religion, endowed with Christ's power and authority to teach, save and make holy, had been abolished through such injustice, violence and falsehood, that Fr. Robert Southwell thought that, to be truly English, was to be Catholic. We believe that the Catholic Faith is the long-forgotten and long-denied birthright of every Briton down to our own times.

Baddesley Clinton Today

The ancient manor of Baddesley Clinton is now preserved and run by the National Trust. It is a great venue for an educational, spiritual and fun day out for all people, but we would especially say that this is so for families.

Visitors today can view the priest-hole in the kitchen area and reflect on the fact that St. Nicholas Owen's work was so clever that one of the priest-holes was only discovered in 1935! As well as being of particular interest to Catholics looking for inspiration, and to folks who enjoy architecture or history, these are the kinds of things kids everywhere just love to view!

The house has a splendid chapel which bears the Latin inscription, Transit Gloria Mundi - Fides Catholica Manet. In English, this reads as, Wordly Glory is Transitory, but the Catholic Faith Endures. As you'll remember, that is the title for today's article. It is one well worth writing down in a diary, or somewhere prominent at home, and reflecting on often.

Then there are the pleasant grounds where picnics and walks can be enjoyed. Families will likely appreciate the nice woodland play area. At certain times of the year, good bargains can also be found at the book fairs. I managed to get a rock-bottom priced copy of (the normally expensive), Cardinal Mindszenty's Memoirs, during a visit one August. There is also a nice restaurant on site, providing a varied menu which includes seasonal vegetables grown in Baddesley Clinton's own garden. At certain times of the year, the staff get dressed up in period costumes to add to the Elizabethan atmosphere of the place.

For all of these reasons, and as a means to deepening one's awareness of the great Catholic history of England, Baddesley Clinton is a fondly remembered venue for days out for us here at Torch of The Faith.

It is a place of educational value, inspiration, refreshment and, above all, of pilgrimage and prayer for those who love both the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and wish to remember those who gave their lives to keep the light of the Faith burning here in these British Isles, during such a dark period of history.

The example and prayers of these good priests and lay people will surely help us in the coming storms. They are good Heavenly friends to have, wherever you are reading this from. May their faithful witness inspire and encourage all who read this in these difficult times; which are once again so anti-Catholic and often even lonely for those who seek to follow Christ in the One True Church.

Keep the Faith!
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Angeline discovers that the camouflage is not nearly so effective at the moated rear elevation of Baddesley Clinton. I knew we should have packed the tudor-panel t-shirts and stovepipe hats!

Inter-communion with Protestants? Anathema Sit!


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 17 May 2018 - 11:39:28 | by admin

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Marx... ist... nicht Katholisch! (Say it fast enough and you'll get the gist...).

The Problem

The Francis-enabled ''discussion'' in Germany on whether to give Holy Communion to Protestants, must be seen for what it really is; and then robustly and wilfully resisted by every single member of the Mystical Body of Christ.

As long ago as 16th December, 2016, we were already warning here that Cardinal Walter Kasper might be preparing the way for just such an eventuality as this, by engaging in what looked like ''predictive programming'' in mainstream media interviews.

Just to recap, predictive programming has been useful to subversives when their pre-planned ''future scenarios'' are so radical as to upset the present status quo. In order to thus advance their ideology, without also encountering the type of strong resistance which such radical moves would typically provoke, those engaging in predictive programming make a sophisticated use of media, events and reportage to gradually float ideas, test for resistance and incrementally condition social groups to gradually accept changes toward a full acceptance of their already pre-planned scenario.

It is the ''Boiling Frog'' approach par excellence.

Such things were played out for all to see in the staged synods leading up to Amoris Laetitia.

So, the once unthinkable Holy Communion for adulterers ''in certain individual cases'' was subversively allowed to gain traction, and now leads on to Holy Communion for Protestants ''in some extreme cases''.

Where will all this lead to next? Communion for atheists, Muslims, Jews, or homosexual pairings?

Well, as we said back in December, 2016, just keep watching Pope Francis, Cardinal Walter Kasper and their Scalfari-esque media favourites, to look out for upcoming trial balloons and signals...

As the next obvious step in the Hegelian/Bergoglian/Kasperian undermining of the Church, the ''proposal'' for Holy Communion for Protestants, complete with its own unanswered Dubia, (see how these boys learn from the moves of their opponents, whilst never wasting a crisis...), is a direct attack on Catholic orthodoxy.

In fact, as did the implementation of Amoris Laetitia before it, this development strikes right at the very heart of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist, the Four Marks of the Church, the Magisterial teaching of the Council of Trent and the salvation and sanctification of souls who, as was again the case with Amoris Laetitia, will be encouraged to put off/avoid conversion and make sacrilegious communions in the meantime.

The gravity of all of this must not be ignored or underestimated.

As someone who grew up in a Protestant milieu, I can testify that no real Protestant would ever want to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church, anyway. And, more importantly, now thankfully as a Catholic, I can bear witness to the truth that no true Catholic would ever want them to. At least, not until they had received the grace of a real conversion to the One True Faith for the salvation and sanctification of their souls.

Real Catholics do not want the sacraments to be sacrileged; the authentic harmony of the Church to be broken up into an unintelligible confusion sundered from the unity of belief and practice in all times and places; neither do they want anyone to damage their souls through sacrilegious communions.

The Catholic Church has already spoken authoratively and magisterially on this whole matter at the Council of Trent and in the centuries following. There is therefore nothing further to discuss; save for how to win souls for Christ and bring Protestants to see and join the True Church which Christ founded on the Apostles and their successors. That is true charity.

It is therefore disingenuous in the extreme to even suggest that a ''debate'' can be held on this matter. The same was, of course, true in regard to giving Holy Communion to adulterers. None of this should ever have happened. It is heresy and sacrilege, plain and simple.

The true teachings of the Magisterium on these, (and indeed on all), matters are not problems to be solved, but they are rather mysteries to be received.

In reality, the prelates promoting this nonsense are post-Catholic Modernists. And indeed, many of their Protestant interlocutors are more truthfully described as post-Protestant Modernists.

What they have in common with one another is a Modernist - really a Post-Modernist! - movement beyond Christ, a globalizing religious relativism and a slide into the shifting sands of relativistic ethical mores.

The Answer
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St. Edmund Campion - the great martyr priest of England.

Anyone who loves Christ, who loves the Catholic Church, who desires authentic Christian unity worthy of the name, and who loves Protestants enough to want their conversion to the fulness of Truth, must resist this latest attack on Catholic orthodoxy with the help of the graces and spiritual energy of those who died as Catholic Martyrs during the Protestant Revolution (that misnamed ''Reformation'' in the popular lexicon).

Across Europe, and not least here in the north-west region of England, many Catholics risked and sacrificed their finances, liberties, nay even their lives, to offer and to attend secret celebrations of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to shelter the priests who offered that most august sacrifice, to print Catholic literature and to carefully hand on the True Faith to their children and descendants.

These good and holy people were not sectarian bigots. On the contrary, they were faithful servants of that one great Mystery which alone can bring real and lasting unity to all peoples: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, offered by a validly ordained Catholic priest at the very heart of the True Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is because our forefathers in the Faith remained so steadfast during that long period of persecution that we have the Faith to practice today.

As the above pictured St. Edmund Campion, that great martyr priest of England, announced when he was unjustly sentenced to death by a corrupted and anti-Catholic state: ''In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors, all our ancient bishops and kings, all that was once the glory of England - the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter.''

Let us not betray Christ, the true Church, the faithful martyrs, nor those Protestants who should be given the truth in charity, but also with clarity, for the salvation and sanctification of their immortal souls.

Let us all do ourselves a favour: Purchase a copy of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, from a printer like Baronius Press or similar, and prayerfully read through it in sections with your loved ones each evening as part of your family prayers.

Let's get informed, get praying and firmly resist all of these heretical travesties.

And May the Holy Martyrs and the true Reforming Saints within the Catholic Church - Pray for us!

Keep the (True) Faith!

Behold Your Mother - A Sign of the Coming Triumph


Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 16 May 2018 - 13:39:30 | by admin

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Some Good News

I picked up a heartening story last night about the ICKSP's Oratory of St. Mary in Wasau, Wisconsin, USA. It is a church we already know, because we sometimes listen to the excellent sermons of the priests through the on-line MP3 audio facility.

Shock Turned to Faith and Hope

The start of the story is not so happy, in that the local congregation was shocked when their fine statue of Our Lady of Fatima was sadly stolen from the church's pleasant grounds last week.

However, the shock of the priests and congregation was soon turned to faith and hope, when the community gathered together to pray for the safe return of Our Lady's statue.

The young Canon Aaron Huberfeld (ICKSP), leading his flock in prayer, had faith that this sad event would soon have a happy outcome.

In a nicely sympathetic piece aired by the local WSAW-TV, Canon Huberfeld explained that he was always confident that the faithful prayers of the local community would bring Our Lady back safe and sound. 

The Canon said: ''The thought in the back of my head right away was, She'll be coming back by the end of the week. We knew that those prayers would bring her back.''

In a separate written report at WDEZ101.9FM, Canon Huberfeld spoke of a ''no questions asked'' return policy for the statue. He reflected, ''We are all open to forgiveness and conversion of heart. That's the most important thing, not only for us, but for the people who did this.''

Happily, local police officers were swiftly able to find the culprits and discover the statue of Our Lady at a location in Pelican Lake.

Our Lady's Immaculate Heart, Changing Hearts for the Better

Not only was Our Lady returned in time for the beautiful May Procession to celebrate the 101st anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, but those who stole her have indeed had a change of heart.

In fact, they have even offered of their own free will to make amends by helping out around the church grounds. With a generous smile, Canon Huberfeld acknowledged to WSAW-TV that he thinks the community will take them up on the offer.

A couple of the folks from the congregation were interviewed for the local television report about the support of the local community and their shared prayers for Our Lady's return.

One lady noted: ''When you witness so many good people, and doing good things pulling together for a greater good, you know, it just gives you so much hope.''

As WSAW-TV's local reporter Kevin Carr concluded, this story provided ''an example of how a little faith and support from others can go a long way.''

A Small Sign of a Big Victory

This whole story got us thinking last night about the various prophecies of the ultimate triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady; and of the devotion to Our Lady of the Abandoned Ones, which we described here on Sunday.

From the various approved apparitions of Our Lady we can be assured that, although it will seem for a time as though the Church has been eclipsed, that when things seem so bad as to be beyond human help or hope, then Our Blessed Lady will come and the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart, a profound victory of God's grace, will be clear for all to see.

I would suggest that, small though they may seem to some, those recent happenings in Wasau provide us with a little sign of the coming Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Here, it seemed that Our Lady had disappeared and that evil was having its victory. However, the priest led his people in faith and hope-filled prayer. Gathered around their priest, the people stuck together, maintained their faith and prayed with Christian hope. Within a week Our Lady came back and brought joy and great celebration to the local people. And Her return was connected with the anniversary of the deeply important apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

And to top it all, the people who stole Our Lady have been blessed with a change of heart and now want to help serve the Church. Please say a prayer for them.

By the way, we sometimes get visits to this website from folks in Wasau and in the outlying areas around in the beautiful state of Wisconsin. If you happen to be reading this site from around there, may we say a big ''Hello'' and thank you for your readership!

The folks in Wisconsin certainly look to be blessed with a beautiful ICKSP church and strongly Catholic community. Here's a bit of their parish's ''eye-candy'' to console Catholic souls everywhere. 
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And from wherever else you happen to be reading this blog from today: Thank you for dropping by.

May God bless you, and may you remain faithful in the hope of the ultimate victory of Our Lady, and Her Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

May we never forget that Our Lady has promised, and is giving small reminders that, In the End, My Immaculate Heart Will Triumph!

Keep the Faith, friends!

Woe to Us, If We Do Not Defend Life!


Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 15 May 2018 - 13:54:01 | by admin

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Alfie Evans: Having drawn forth much courage, love, faith and truth around the world, exposing the hearts and deeds of the good and the evil, little Alfie is now at peace with God.

Alfie Evans' Funeral Cortege - Truth, Love and Dignity

Several weeks ago, Dorothy Cummings McLean wrote a moving article about Alfie Evans for LifeSiteNews, which I felt at the time had very accurately taken and expressed something of the pulse of the culture and people of my home city of Liverpool.

The article was entitled, 'One of our own': Why Alfie Evans is Liverpool's baby. It concluded with a revealing insight into the strange-sounding words of Judge Heyden, regarding the supposed infringements of Alfie's ''privacy'' by Tom Evans' courageous attempts to get Alfie's story out on social media.

Dorothy's article wondered aloud whether the courts were ''imposing middle-aged, middle-class ideas about what makes life worth living on working class Alfie and his parents?''

Of course, there was a lot more to Dorothy's article, and indeed to the moral issues at stake in Alfie's case, than just that. However, I suggest that it gave an interesting angle on the ironical use and abuse of power in our much surveilled British society. It was the discomforting matter of surveillance, bearing close to home after one has been so outspoken, which I tried to express here yesterday.

Anyway, at the conclusion of Dorothy's article, she asked a Liverpool cab driver what he thought of Justice Heyden's ''interest in Alfie's privacy''.

The answer was as revealing as it was expressive of the true Liverpudlian culture.

She wrote: ''That child will never have any privacy,'' said the driver proudly, as if privacy were abuse and neglect. ''We'll be with him until the end. And when he dies, there will be thousands of us at his funeral. The whole city will be there.''

It was because of this kind of basic Scouse natural decency that I was so glad that, whilst Alfie's family deserved the dignity of mourning privately, an opportunity was also being provided for the public to show Alfie, and his parents and relations, their loving support yesterday.

And loving support it was.

The sight of hundreds of ordinary Liverpool people, mums and grandmas in particular, shedding tears, gently clapping and scattering beautiful flowers before and on the hearse yesterday, is something which I will not soon forget. Neither will any of us forget Tom and Kate in those moments of dignified grief. Nor little Alfie, the holy boy of Liverpool, who brought forth so much love, courage and prayer all around the world.

I can't help but thinking that it is just this kind of foundational, natural law, loving kindness, still found among so many of the ordinary folk, which too many in the judiciary, healthcare, civil services and, alas, even in the Church hierarchy have lost touch with.

As such, our society is not only becoming less and less humane; it is even becoming a frightening place for parents, families and indeed for anyone who becomes vulnerable in terms of their health and autonomy.

But it is this kind of ordinary decency at the street level which continues to give hope. And it is this very thing which our bishops and priests need to tap into and assist.

Because of the dignity and duties of their office, they have to show, even more than do the rest of us, that Christ and His Church are on the side of the most ordinary, the most vulnerable, the most weak. This was always a key attraction of the Catholic Church, which has provided care for more people, in more cultures, across more social backgrounds, and for longer periods of time, than has any other institution in human history. This is a remarkable aspect of her truth claims.

The Pro-Life Calls for an Autopsy

Before saying more on that front, it is noticable that Dorothy Cummings McLean also posted up another article at LifeSiteNews yesterday, under the headline, Alfie Evans laid to rest today with no coroner's investigation, no toxicology report. And, (good grief), for those who are surveilling my writings here, I am merely reporting on something which is already in the media.

Dorothy reports that a pro-life advocate called John Allman had made an ''urgent application'' to the UK High Court in Westminster to prevent burial without a prior post-mortem examination, given the fact that Italian media had suggested that drugs had been administered to Alfie before he died. Indeed, LifeSiteNews themselves claim to have been told by two sources close to the family that these were injections.

Until now, I have avoided comment on this story here for four reasons: I did not think there was sufficient evidence to believe the story's veracity; Alfie's family had specifically asked people not to believe or spread ''nasty rumours'' which were upsetting them in their grief and, as a local, I would in no way want to do that; a person who we know was praying deeply in and outside of Alder Hey in those days gave no credence to the story; and quite frankly I did not want to get arrested for spreading such inflammatory stories without reasonable foundation.

I also thought that - whilst keeping an open mind in order to remain open to new evidence -, without confirmation from the family themselves, such stories could likely serve to take the real focus away from the absolutely important and central fact that all of us already do know; which is that, at the ordering of the state and medical world, backed up by all of the machinery at their disposal, and even supported by local Catholic prelates, that Alfie Evans was disgracefully denied oxygen, fluid and nutrition for long periods of time in his last days. And this, even though his parents and supporters were so desperately trying to save him.

I would be worried that this key cultural seismic change might somehow become obscured and, if not forgotten, at least moved out of focus, if everyone began to instead pursue something which may only be a kind of conspiracy theory; and thus fail to keep the spotlight on the key issue afflicting our society and advancing the Culture of Death.

Be all that as it may, according to Dorothy's article at LifeSiteNews, the pro-lifer John Allman courageously went to court after asking the local coroner to do a toxicology report in order to definitively investigate these matters.

In a statement which has obviousy been well thought out and proposed, Mr. Allman noted: ''A toxicology report may reveal to what extent, if any, medication given to Alfie before he died may have shortened his life. It could therefore exhonerate fully those unfortunate health professionals whom, somewhat irresponsibly, until your request reveals the truth and silences those wagging tongues, various conspiracy theorists are wont recklessly to accuse of homicide.''

In any case, it was ruled that no toxicology report would be carried out. Dorothy Cummings McLean thus reflected that, ''the question of what caused the death of UK toddler Alfie Evans may never be known.''

Still, all pro-lifers and Catholics have a duty to continue to point out that the removal of oxygen, fluid and water, especially for so long, and against the direct wishes of the parents, was and will always be plain wrong. 

Alfie has now been buried and, as we have said a few times, having been Baptised and Confirmed, now shares in a high degree of glory, enjoying the Beatific Vision of God. He is at peace.

Please do continue to pray for his family, relatives and close supporters in these painful days for them all.

Reclaiming Evangelium Vitae from the Dust of Obscurity

As to the rest of us, the events of recent weeks have exposed just how far from the, quite literally, life-giving true teachings of the Catholic Church things have fallen.

About 16 years ago, I read the life-story of the former abortion doctor, and Catholic convert, Dr. Bernard Nathanson. He explained that the abortionists would never have got so far with their plans in the 60's and 70's, if the Catholic clergy had been more interested, informed and unified in their resistance.

Nathanson warned that the Culture of Life could expect further grave defeats in the areas of embryo research and cloning, in the future, if the Catholic clergy made the same mistakes again.

When I read that all those years ago, I was working as a PR/Education officer, based in Liverpool; but operating as the travelling north-west regional officer as part of a national UK pro-life team.         
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Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who warned that the Culture of Death advances when the Catholic clergy are lacking in interest, information and unified action.

As such, I hosted a clergy day in the Liverpool office to try and help the priests to become mobilised, interested, informed and united on the pro-life front.

Alas, and although I received a couple of genuine apologies from orthodox old boys, in the event only two men showed up: one was my late friend Fr. Mike Williams, (at that point still a seminarian), and the other was old Fr. Billy Mills; who defeated a severe respiratory problem and a kettle-scalded foot to get to the event. May God rest them!

During that period of full-time pro-life work, I came to see that not only were many bishops and priests neither interested, informed or unified on pro-life matters, but that Evangelium Vitae must rank among other essential papal teaching documents of the late 20th-Century - along with, for examples, Humanae Vitae, Fides et Ratio and Veritatis Splendor -, which were as important as they were universally ignored.

The behaviour and acts of the local hierarchy of England and Wales, most specifically that of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon and Bishop Tom Williams, during the recent case of little Alfie Evans, demonstrate just how singularly Evangelium Vitae has been ignored. The whole sorry saga also demonstrates something of the dire consequences of that ignorance.

Here was a teaching moment of great importance. Had it been charitably seized, it might have saved Alfie's life, assisted his parents, borne witness to the truths of our Faith to countless people of goodwill who were finding courage, faith and prayer in those days, as well as protecting untold numbers of parents and children from forced euthanasia in the future.

All of this was lost.

This is why, even though I so often promote here the good things that Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury says and does, I find that his words on the government turn-around over capped places for Catholic schools - bold, good and true as his words are in exposing the fact that ''the rights of parents are being made subservient to ideology'' -, to be just that bit hollow this time around.

It is very sad.

What happened to little Alfie and his family has set a precedent which means there will be many more similar cases in the future.

Given the massive defeat which we have all just endured, combined with the fact that, across the sea, Ireland is just days away from the referendum about the pro-life 8th Amendment, I call here and now for a renewed reception and implementation of the essentially important Evangelium Vitae.

This needs to be accomplished through conversion of heart, prayer, study and action.

For, as the sainted author of that key document warned at World Youth Day in Denver, 1993: Woe to you, if you do not succeed in defending life!

Woe, indeed...     

To a Blessed Country


Torch of The Faith News on Monday 14 May 2018 - 09:06:54 | by admin

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A revealing cultural history all in one picture: Lincoln Cathedral, the Magna Carta pub and a street-scanning CCTV camera.

A Question of Support

Later this morning, just a few miles from where this article is being typed, the funeral cortege of little Alfie Evans will pass between two officially undisclosed locations along Walton Lane outside Goodison Park. At the behest of Alfie's family, and communicated via an official Merseyside Police statement, supporters have been invited to line the pavement at that location, near the famous grounds of Everton Football Club, in order to pay their respects and offer their condolences.

A few days ago, Daniel Evans posted up the following information at the public site of Alfie's Army: ''The funeral will be private due to the family's wishes, we ask that no one turns up unless you have been personally invited by Thomas and Kate as there's a limited number of people who are allowed to attend, invitations are currently being sorted out for family and close friends. Thank you for all your support.''

This request by the family is certainly fair enough and it should be respected, especially at such a time of mourning. When my own father was dying, he left explicit instructions that, although his funeral was to be public, the burial itself was to be restricted just to the immediate family. Although this perhaps caused some folks to feel hurt at the time, Dad did this to particularly protect Mum's privacy in her grief.

The provision by Alfie's family and the local police of this opportunity for a public expression of support, at another location, is therefore certainly appreciated here on Merseyside.

At the same time, and given all the painful memories of this particular case, it is also true that the choice of the words ''allowed to attend'' in Daniel's statement has certainly raised the question: ''Allowed by whom?''

Daniel's reminder of the family's request is then followed by an insertion of the local police force's public statement on the funeral and the above-described opportunity for public condolences at Walton Lane.

This official statement asserts that ''a small number of officers will be in attendance of the funeral.'' It also adds: ''Both the funeral and wake will not be open to the public or media, with our attendance purely being to offer support for those attending the funeral. Those who have not been invited to the funeral are asked to avoid the area to allow Alfie's family to grieve privately.''

Again, whilst this request to allow the family to grieve privately is perfectly reasonable, and given the very public nature of the case this would appear to need the help of some kind of official support to uphold that family privacy, eyebrows have certainly been raised by the concept in light of the oppressive feelings experienced in relation to the heavy police presence in and around Alder Hey during little Alfie's final days in this world. It will be remembered that - as expressed for example in Thomas Evans' desperate plea for Pope Francis to come and see how his son was ''being treated like a hostage'' - the family at that time did not at all view the police presence as one of support. 

The Truth Always Remains

Being metaphysical realities, the moral and cultural truths relating to Alfie Evans' case will not simply disappear.

Laurence England has written a heartfelt critique at his That the Bones You Have Crushed site. Again, the courageous sermon of the FSSP's Fr. Armand de Malleray on the ramifications of the case has also become very public; being viewed over 40,000 times on Vimeo and providing the basis for the key themes in the editorial of the latest widely dispersed edition of the FSSP's Dowry magazine in England.

Still, in light of Torch of The Faith's experience this weekend, I imagine that American commentators will find themselves at greater liberty to express observations on some of these themes. Closer to home, there are those of us whose liberties are observed for the things we have already said.

The photographs in this article were taken during a pilgrimage that we made several years ago to pray, at the remains of the shrine of St. Hugh of Lincoln, for the reconversion of England. During World War II, those famous towers of the medieval cathedral were often a melancholy source of comfort to aircrews flying out at sunset from Lincolnshire on bomber missions over Germany; conversely they assured surviving crews returning at sunrise, sometimes smoking a sly cigarette, that they had made it safely home.

Emerging through clouds at twilight and in sunlight, the ancient cathedral appeared as a tangible reminder of deeper realities. It was something both sacred and permanent in the midst of a short-lived and destructive epoch.

Hard Won Freedom

In our own tumultous times, I sometimes find myself thinking of my own late-Uncle Jack, spending night after dangerous night freezing away in the tail-turret of a Lancaster Bomber; the most dangerous seat in the house, because Me-109s would often sit just out of range of the tail-gunner's weaponry, take the gunner out with superior fire-power, and then be free to systematically destroy the rest of the aeroplane. My Uncle Jack made it through and lived on until the first years of this century. Not so fortunate were my nan's two brothers who perished on the same vessel, after it was hit by a German U-boat in the First World War.

The reason I think here of these men and their sacrifices, is because the society in which we live would be unrecognizable to them; both in terms of what they believed in and what they would have understood themselves to be fighting for. Indeed, things have changed so fast, and so much, that even in that fabled year of 1984, when I was but a youngster in high-school, none of us would ever have imagined that things would turn out like this.

Weighed in the Balance - Chattels of the State?

I was thinking over the weekend how I had first noticed that our nation seemed to have passed a religio-cultural ''tipping point'' when I returned here in 2006, after 2 years away in America. By that, I mean that the secularizing forces of the previous decades, actually centuries, had come together in a manner which would now require nothing short of divine intervention to put right.

Several years later, I was describing this sense of such a tipping point having occured sometime around 2005 to a renowned, intellectual priest of the rank of Monsignor. This priest affirmed my thesis; although he differed as to the timing of the tipping-point by a mere two years.

One of the things I distinctly remember about my first days back in the UK - aside from the fact that all jobs now seemed to require Sunday working and all application forms suddenly now referred to one's ''partner'' instead of one's ''spouse'' - was seeing a prominent notice on local trains, bearing an Orwellian-sounding legend to the effect that, ''All carriages are being filmed for your safety and convenience.'' I remember thinking that I felt it far more safe and convenient when I had not been observed by the unseen, but all-seeing, eye...

A few years later, and though few cared to notice it, the requirements of the national census made explicitly clear just how the state now viewed its citizens.

At the time, there was some resistance to the census in Britain because of the more-than-typically-intrusive nature of some of the official questions, and because of the choice of Lockheed-Martin to process the collection of data.

Those who contemplated resistance to the census were warned that draconian fines for non-completion of the forms would be levied; and that non-payment of such fines would allow officials to enter private premises and take property to the value of the fines. For those with eyes to see, this suggested that both persons and their goods were deemed to be the property of the state.

Such perceptions have been deepened by the case of Alfie Evans and the official notion, backed remember by Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop McMahon, that prolongation of life was ''not being in his best interests''.

The ramifications of all this are clear. As Fr. de Malleray bravely points out regarding parental rights in his editorial in the latest Dowry magazine: ''Against immense pressure from all over the world, the legal and medical establishment ruled otherwise, sending this chilling message to ordinary citizens: 'We own you.'''

Past, Present and Future

I think that our above photograph, from our pilgrimage to St. Hugh's shrine at Lincoln, provides an interesting potted history of our nation.

Its inclusion of the cathedral tower, the Magna Carta pub and the street-scanning CCTV camera depict for us the disparate symbols of a sophisticated Catholic Christendom, which was capable of bearing fruit in rich expressions of human liberty, such as those so clearly encapuslated in Magna Carta, (an original copy of which was - and still is - kept at Lincoln Cathedral since 1215 AD); the subsequent descent into a post-Catholic, Anglican society, which sought to dominate those deemed to be lesser beings in terms of religion and, when later coupled to vast Imperial ambition and gun-boat diplomacy, even those deemed to be lesser in terms of race and culture; and the present-day emergence of a post-Christian state, in which once-powerful churches find themselves, like the pub next door, as little more than tourist attractions, whilst untold levels of state control and surveillance hold sway over those deemed to be so low as to be merely the property of the state.

As I have had to think during the weekend, it is all just too reminiscent of George Orwell's famous line: ''In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.''

Nevertheless, as Catholics we maintain with God's grace the practice of the Theological Virtue of Christian Hope.

When Joseph Ratzinger was a young boy at the collapse of the Third Reich, he found himself made a prisoner-of-war on meagre rations by the liberating American forces, camping with many other prisoners on farmland near Ulm.

In his Memoirs - 1927-1977, he writes: ''In front of us, at the very horizon, rose the majestic contours of the Ulm cathedral. Day after day the sight of it was for me like a consoling proclamation of the indestructible humaneness of faith.''

And so it is with England.

The Church may seem to have disappeared, or worse colluded with the state in this whole business; but the real driving force behind the True Church, the mysterious grace of Christ, has not. And neither will it ever. No matter how obscured by heretical, immoral or compromised leadership.

The church buildings may have been converted to Anglican use, and then again made over to suit tourist visitation, but the idea behind them cannot be. And that idea is no mere ideology, but the very truth of Christ that sets us free. The truth will out. Silence us, and another ten supportive writers would rise up. As Edward Bulwer-Lytton pronounced, the pen really is mightier than the sword.

Do not grieve as do the Pagans

Today is the funeral of little Alfie Evans. Make no mistake, it is a sad day for his family and for our country. We must pray much for his family and for our society. And yet, as Catholics living and often experiencing oppression in a once-Christian nation, we can also rejoice. Truly, Alfie Evans has now gone to a blessed country!

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The fortress-like Lincoln Cathedral, which stands across an open courtyard from Lincoln Castle; both vast structures symbolised and were built at a time in our nation's history when Church and State were rooted in the life-giving foundations of the divine and natural law.

Our Lady of Walsingham - Pray for us!

St. Hugh of Lincoln - Pray for us!

May 13th - Our Lady of Fatima - Day of Reparation in Ireland - Oz Rosary in Australia - Let us Unite in Prayer!


Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 13 May 2018 - 13:41:14 | by admin

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Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of the Abandoned Ones

Today is the 101st anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima in 1917. One only has to look around at the spiritual warfare being waged in the Church and the world in these times to realize the apocalyptic importance of the Fatima apparitions and to reflect on their true content, requests and implications.

As well as being a grave warning, the apparitions at Fatima can act as a timely consolation to all Catholics who are trying their best to respond to God's graces in the present circumstances in which we all find ourselves.

Right now, we at Torch of The Faith find ourselves in a particularly isolated and worrisome position, due to the state of things in the Church and society. It has been our consistent and remarkable experience over the years, that the more one speaks out to defend Catholic orthodoxy and the Culture of Life, conversely the less welcome one is in the society of even orthodox Catholics and pro-lifers.

Whilst preparing for today's article last night, we found some very comforting words about a devotion to Our Lady of the Abandoned Ones, over at yesterday's update on the Tradition in Action website.

The article had originally been written by the late, great Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira. His conclusion will likely be helpful to many readers.

The professor wrote: ''Someone once told me this saying of St. Bonaventure that is linked to the devotion to Our Lady of the Abandoned Ones: ''When all human help fails, it is imperative that we do not despair. For normally in this extreme situation, the divine help of Mary comes.'' That is, when man is completely abandoned, it is necessary to have hope, because this is the moment that Our Lady will give her assistance.''

These words encouraged us in a bleak hour, we pray that they will be helpful to some people who read this page today.

Day of Reparation and Repentance in Ireland 
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The Calvary scene in the grounds of the shrine of Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, Co. Mayo. As storm clouds gather over Ireland, we must all join in praying for the protection of Ireland's 8th Amendment.

We've received an important update from the good people at HLI - Ireland about today's Day of Repentance and Reparation for the Protection of the Unborn and in Reparation for the Ways Ireland Has Turned Away from God.

This essential event will be held today, just a couple of weeks before the referendum vote on the 8th Amendment, with Holy Mass and hopefully an opportunity to venerate a Church approved relic associated with the Holy Face at every single one of 7 venues across Ireland.

The locations include: Our Lady of Victories Church, south Dublin; St. Saviour's Dominican Church, Limerick; St. Patrick's Church, Donegal Town; St. Joseph's SMA Fathers Church, Cork City; Shanvaghera Church 3 miles from the Shrine of Knock, Co, Mayo; St. Mary's Chapel Lane, Belfast; and the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Waterford City.

As Patrick McCrystal, the faithful head of HLI - Ireland, writes: ''The abortion crisis may yet be averted. It is never too late! Nineveh repented and God relented!''

Patrick particularly cites the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14 for today's event: ''If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.'' 

When you hear of Irish pro-life bill-boards, featuring the majestic Holy Face of Jesus, being plastered over with horrible posters telling people ''not to repent, but to repeal the 8th Amendment,''  then you must realize the absolute gravity of all of this from a spiritual, as well as from a temporal, perspective... 

Therefore: Please join in praying with the good Catholics of Ireland, from wherever you are today.

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Oz Rosary # 53

This 101st anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima is also the day on which the Rosary on the Coast will be held all around Australia.
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Following the success of similar events around Poland, Ireland and the United Kingdom, Oz Rosary # 53 will gather Catholics from all around Australia to pray the Rosary for Australia's protection, future, youth and for the Church there.

The number 53 represents the number of times the Hail Mary is prayed during the recital of the Holy Rosary. Originally, the leaders were looking for 53 or more locations to act as official venues for prayers. It looks as though they have been blessed with much greater success, because some 200 locations are now planning to host today's event all around Australia.

David Cremin, the retired auxiliary bishop of Sydney has strongly endorsed the initiative, which, as seems to so often be the way in these times of apostasy and disorientation, has largely grown through the prayers and endeavours of lay people and local parish priests.

Nevertheless, this fact itself shows that the Holy Ghost is still protecting, guiding and nurturing the Church. God will always raise up new disciples and will not leave his people as orphans.

America's National Catholic Register had an encouraging interview, about Oz Rosary # 53, with Fr. Stefan Matuszek, assistant priest at St. Augustine's in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales.

Father Matuszek has pointed out that, when the European country of Austria found itself under the occupation of the Soviets after World War II, a capuchin priest called Fr. Petrus Pavlicek, managed to mobilise some 70,000 Catholic faithful to pray the Rosary for the exit of the Russians. Three years later, on this very date, the 13th May anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, the Russians marched out. And as Fr. Matuszek reflects, Fatima is very much connected with Russia.

Through his interview and preparations for today's Rosary initiative, this good Catholic priest has reminded his hearers of the primary importance of prayer.

Recalling that too many of us forget prayer, but instead try and put things right through active initiatives which are more obvious and physical, he explained: ''There is a temptation for all of us in a materialistic world to forget the power of the spiritual.''

In a concluding reflection regarding the ongoing collapse of Church attendance in Australia, in the midst of a cultural context of rampant secularization, Fr. Matuszek told the National Catholic Register: ''The Church has always survived persecution. When Catholics are being arrested, tortured, killed, we just get stronger. Tertullian said the blood of martys is the seed of Christians. The worst thing for the Church is apathy.''

On this 13th May, 101st anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, let us join with all our readers, and Catholics around the world, to be encouraged by the consoling protection of God and of Our Lady, and to pray for these important intentions today.

Keep the Faith!      

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