Torch of The Faith News on Monday 24 April 2017 - 12:48:50 | by admin
Pope Francis recently suggested something that seemed so outrageously blasphemous to our ears that we did not even want to consider it during the whole period of the Octave of Easter.
I speak of his words on 4th April, which were subsequently translated and presented by Andrew Guernsey in L'Osservatore Romano.
Lest anyone should attempt to exhonerate Francis with the tired old line about the possibilities of a mistranslation, please be aware that the original Italian version of Francis' words remains posted at the Vatican's website; and that the Italian-speaker Antonio Socci responded rapidly and strongly to those original words, both in an article on his Facebook page, and in a strong article posted up at the Italian Libero, within a couple of days of their having first been uttered.
It therefore makes little sense for anyone to try and hide behind the flimsy defences of a supposed mistranslation.
And now that the Easter Octave is over, we find ourselves also having to leave the spiritual bunker, as it were, and face up to Francis' shocking words ourselves.
The offending paragraph is, of course, that in which Francis had spoken of Jesus, during a sermon on Numbers 21:4-9, ''... as the memory of the man who made himself sin, who made himself the devil, the serpent, for us; he debased himself up to the point of totally annihiliating himself.''
Made Himself the Devil?!!!
Isn't that just so blasphemous an idea as to make any faithful Catholic want to rend their own garments?
As you know, this is by no means the first time that Francis has spoken in a problematic manner about this theme. Still, this must represent something of a new low, sounding as it does so utterly blasphemous and indefensible.
Francis' previous comments on this theme have each had a particularly Lutheran ring to them. For example, by suggesting as early as June 2013, that Christ somehow ''became the sinner for us,'' Francis had the temerity to say: ''We look for Jesus Christ and say: ''This is your sin, and I will sin again''... And Jesus likes that, because it was His mission, to become the sinner for us, to liberate us.''
And Jesus likes that?!!! Has Francis ever seen, much less contemplated, a Catholic Crucifix? Does that statement display any conception of the fact that a firm purpose of amendment is integral to valid repentance, confession and absolution? What do you think of that question, post Amoris Laetitia?
Although, like many bewildered people, we were still keeping quiet about Francis at that point in 2013, we were nevertheless deeply troubled by that blasphemous-sounding line, with all of its spooky similarities to Luther's discussions of ''sinning boldly''.
Again, on 15th March, 2016, Francis stated: ''Sin is the work of Satan and Jesus defeats Satan by 'becoming sin' and from there he lifts up all of us.''
Of course, there is a sense in which St. Paul speaks of Christ as ''becoming sin'' to save us from our sins. Consider, for example, the Pauline teachings announced in 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 2:7; and Rom 8:3.
Still, given the ring of Francis' earlier statement in 2013 and his steadily unfolding promotion of Luther throughout 2016, observant Catholics could be forgiven for being deeply concerned. Such concerns were only made worse by the fact that Francis also suggested, at that time, ''What is even stronger, 'he became sin'. Using this symbol he became a serpent'. This is the prophetic message of today's reading.''
Thankfully, the ordinary Catholic in the pew can be spared the confusion of the faulty notions established in this area by Luther, and taken forward by the liberal 19th-Century Protestant exegetes, and then the post-modern radicals, who have followed and taken these notions still further in our own days.
If one turns to paragraphs CCC 602 to 603 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, one rediscovers the clear articulation of Catholic Truth in this important area.
And so, CCC 602 acknowledges that God ''made Him to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.''
And then CCC 603 expounds: ''Jesus did not experience reprobation as if He Himself had sinned. But in redeeming love that always united Him to the Father, He assumed us in the state of our waywardness of sin, to the point that He could say in our name from the Cross: ''My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?'' Having thus established Him in solidarity with us sinners, God ''did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all,'' so that we might be ''reconciled to God by the death of His Son.''
One of the things that brought me into the Catholic Church years ago, was hearing the late Canon Michael Culhane frequently teaching the basic fact that Our Lord Jesus Christ became one of us, in all things but for sin and ignorance, in order to save us from our sins, heal us from them, and restore us to the Father.
Christ did not become sin as in the sense of becoming a sinner. Being God, He took on our sins in order to overcome them. It is the serpent that was raised in the Old Testament that pointed forwards to Him as the antidote to sin; not that He points backwards as though He were becoming any kind of serpent!
And it can never be said, in any kind of literal or theological sense that Jesus ever became the Devil. Good grief, a kid who knew his Baltimore Catechism could tell you that much.
To suggest otherwise is only the stuff of hideous blasphemy.
In researching this piece earlier this morning, I came across a story in the often-troubling Crux. This suggested that Francis had also said something utterly blasphemous in a totally different context than that of a chapel sermon.
According to none other than Austen Ivereigh, in an article released on the Feast of the Annunciation, Dr. Emilce Cuda from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina had an audience with Pope Francis on 17th March, 2017.
During that audience, it is claimed that among Francis' ''intellectual passions'' is the forging of a ''new synthesis out of disparities and disagreements''.
Leaving aside the positively Hegelian ring in that statement, it was also claimed in Crux that Francis joked to Cuda that, ''Inside the Holy Trinity, they are all arguing behind closed doors... but on the outside they give the picture of unity.''
If this statement may be truly attributed to Francis, then how is it anything other than a most disgraceful blasphemy?
Do you or I know any honest-to-goodness Catholic lay person, much less a priest, bishop or pontiff, who would joke in this horrible way about the Most Blessed Trinity; the All-Powerful and Loving God at the very heart of all that exists?
As we move to a conclusion for today, we just read this morning that a conference has now been held by several lay academics to back up the four Dubia cardinals and their efforts.
This is all good and encouraging news.
Nevertheless, it seems to us that, as we have been saying on occasion here since at least November 2014, that the deeper problem beneath Synods '14 and '15, and subsequently within Amoris Laetitia, is the one to which all energies should surely be most constructively aimed.
If the battle against Holy Matrimony, Holy Communion and Holy Confession may be seen as representing an unholy fruit, this is because, prior to any of that, the grubby old root is that of the heresy of Modernism.
It seems to us that the energies of the Church would be best expended on deracinating this evil root, before becoming exhausted and tangled in the evil vines that this root sends out to smother everything that is good and holy.
It would seem to us that this has only been confirmed by the latest outburst against the Dubia Cardinals, from the long-silent Francis-favourite, Cardinal Maradiaga.
To conclude: Before we even get to the Dubia over Amoris Laetitia, oughtn't we have a universal Dubia over Francis' blasphemous sounding sermons and private jokes?
After all, surely every Catholic would agree that it is blasphemous to scoff about the Most Holy Trinity and to suggest that Our Lord Jesus Christ became the Devil!
In the Hierarchy of Truths, the Holy Trinity and the Divinity of Christ are even more fundamental than the indissolubility of marriage, the wrongness of adultery and the evil of sacrilege. The latter flow in a unified harmony from the former.
If one's parish priest acted and spoke in such a blasphemous way, one would take appropriate action to correct, resist and complain about him. Well, when a man sitting on the Throne of St. Peter starts to do just that, hadn't we all better do something about it? It is now essential for Pope Francis to demonstrate that he believes, understands and teaches on these subjects in a way that clearly accords with Divine Revelation and the Deposit of Faith.
In short: Pope Francis has uttered blasphemous-sounding sermons and has even been claimed to make blasphemous jokes - Well then, Dubia This!!!
May Our Lord, Our Lady, Holy Michael and the Heavenly Hosts - Come to Our Aid and Protect Us!
Keep the Faith!
Divine Mercy Sunday 2017 - A Day of Graces for Souls
Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 23 April 2017 - 10:32:55 | by admin
Jesus warned the world through St. Faustina: ''Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation, that is, recourse to My Mercy. If they will not adore My Mercy, they will perish for all eternity.''
Furthermore: ''He who refuses to pass through the door of My Mercy, must pass through the door of My Justice.''
For this reason, Jesus asked for the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy, a feast to be celebrated on this traditional Low Sunday after Easter. He wished that this feast would be, ''a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners.''
The graces of a Plenary Indulgence are available today through the Church. As Our Lord promised to St. Faustina, for this special day each year: ''The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.'' It is also essential that such souls carry out some corporal or spiritual work of mercy.
For those who fear to approach Holy Confession, Jesus announced these consoling words: ''When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of Mercy. Tell souls that, from this fount of Mercy, souls draw graces solely from the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls. Therefore, let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.''
As we often reflect here, the Church and world are passing through particularly dangerous times. Through His holy Church, Our Blessed Lord today offers special graces to assist, convert and console us. May He give us the grace to help us respond with converted hearts, in a spirit of love and humility, during this Feast of Divine Mercy on Low Sunday.
''Tell aching mankind to snuggle close to My Merciful Heart, and I will fill it with peace.''
Jesus, I Trust in You!
Another Old Pub, Some Canal Boats and St. Anselm - It Must Have Been My Birthday!
Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 22 April 2017 - 11:12:15 | by admin
Speaking of interesting old pubs, we headed off yesterday to the Ship Inn in the West Lancashire village of Haskayne. The Ship Inn dates all the way back to the 1750's, and finds itself situated next to a nice and tranquil stretch of the Leeds to Liverpool boat canal.
Canal boats are permitted to tie up overnight along this stretch and there are often interesting and friendly folks to greet along each bank of the waterway in the local area.
The Leeds to Liverpool canal was originally constructed as a major transport route during the heyday of the Industrial Revolution. In fact, the very first cutting for the canal was made not far from Haskayne at Halsall, with a commencement ceremony taking place there in the year 1770.
Of course, the old canals were long ago supplanted by the later revolutions in road and rail transport. Today, the waterway is more of a place for natural conservation, pleasure boating and country walks.
We usually take Mum for such gentle strolls along this peaceful stretch of the canal a few times each year, between the seasons of spring and early autumn. As yesterday was my 45th Birthday, we booked a table at the Ship Inn, to partake of some golden ale and a plate of tasty beer-battered fish and chips (''fries'' for our North American readers!).
The Ship Inn was taken over by new management in January. We received a very warm welcome from them and noticed that they have already made some sympathetic enhancements to the interior. The food was first class in terms of taste, presentation and speed of delivery to the table. It was also very ''moreish'' - all it really lacked was extra volume!
Since Mum suffered her stroke in 2014, she has to be fed everything with spoons and straws. In light of that, we particularly appreciated the fact that the new landlady at the Ship let us sit together in the private comfort of the warm ''snug''.
Mum's condition has now got to the point where I have to introduce myself to her afresh about three times on some days; this seems to happen more on dull or stormy days than on those that are brighter. Obviously, it can be tough in winter, when it can happen about 7 times each day! One gets to know just when Mum is beginning to experience such confusion and how to gradually bring her back reassuringly to recognition and calmness again. I find it most effective to just keep smiling to her face and to gently repeat a few times, ''It's me, Ma... It's your son, Al''. Most times, the light will suddenly go on in her eyes and she begins to laugh and show some delight. It can be emotionally very hard to go through this a few times each day. Not being known by one's Mum must rank amongst the most painful of this life's experiences. It is not something that you ever really get used to. On the other hand, there is always the joy of that moment of renewed recognition to savour!
The Ship Inn has some nice outdoor eating areas, where one can watch the occasional canal boat go chugging by. Most times, the owners will give a friendly wave as they pass. Still, the late-April weather was sufficiently chill and overcast to deter us yesterday and, aside from snapping this picture of Angie and Mum in the grounds, we settled into the snug for several hours instead!
The Halsall area is also an interesting location in terms of Catholic history. As with so many places in Lancashire, there were notable enough numbers of recusants, who refused to give up the Catholic religion at the time of the Protestant ''Reformation''.
J.A Hilton's book Catholic Lancashire contains some interesting data regarding Catholic recusancy in the Halsall area.
For example, a detailed official survey was carried out in 1596 from the province of York. Given the amazing things happening at the FSSP church at St. Mary's in Warrington, it is fascinating to note that this official report lists some 456 Catholic recusants in the south-western deanery of Warrington, which constituted a larger number than in all of the other local deaneries put together. Of course, that was anyway a larger population centre than rural Halsall, and the recorded number of 8 recusants around Halsall is of interest, given the penalties of remaining faithfully Catholic in those grim times.
Later on, this time in 1639, a list of the Catholic gentry and clergy was compiled for the collection of a subsidy for the King's campaign against the Scots ''rebels''.
Although this later list was also produced under government pressure, it is notable for having been drawn up under the superiors of the Catholic clergy with the help of some local Catholic gentry. As J. A. Hilton acknowledges, this document is thus a rare and useful example of an ''internal Lancashire Catholic document of the period''.
In any case, this primary source of evidence shows that, even in 1639 after decades of anti-Catholic persecution, Halsall could still boast of four entire households of Catholic gentry. Of course, that could mean a somewhat larger figure of actual Catholic faithful, especially when one factors in the unrecorded numbers of sympathetic staff, servants, friends and other locals.
Much later, as the Industrial Revolution took hold, the numbers of Catholics throughout Lancashire would be massively swelled by the influx of Irish Catholic immigrants. Canal building itself attracted such an influx of labour. In 1767, the House of Lords ordered a return to be made of all the ''papists'' residing in every parish in England. That primary source document records 25,139 Catholics in the diocese of Chester, and 42,777 in the rest of England put together. In the century that followed, those numbers would soar ever higher though increased industrialization and the mass migration triggered by the Irish potato famines. In the meantime, that particular 1767 document confirms the fact that Lancastrian Catholicism remained, even after two centuries of Protestant hegemony, as a vigorous force in its traditional Lancastrian strongholds.
At that point in time, the government's official report listed no fewer than 228 Catholics living in the rural Halsall area. The larger townships of Ormskirk and Wigan listed 1,082 and 1,692 respectively. The city of Liverpool, due largely to the influx of tradesmen associated with the shipping industry, could at that time return a figure of 1,743 Catholics. In 1705, there had been but 18 Catholics listed in the whole of the city!
Present-day Haskayne is a peaceful place to get out of the post-modern rat-race and take some fresh air for a while. The Ship Inn stands next to a small and quiet road brige, near to a gradual curve in the long waterway. You can do some deep thinking at those picnic tables on a pleasant afternoon. Certainly, you can if the weather holds; we got rained off from a chip supper there, early last September!
As I reflected on this blog during my birthday this time last year, birthdays give us a particular opportunity to thank God for the gifts of our birth, families, baptism, friends and ongoing conversion.
They also give us a moment to take stock and ask whether we are closer to, or further away from, Our Blessed Lord, than we were this time last year. Being assured that we are now one year closer to our own death, judgement and the eternity which follows, we ought also to renew the offer of our hearts to God, and again give over to Him the direction and ultimate destination of our lives from this point on.
As I've also said a couple of times, my birthday is also the traditional date on which the Church celebrates St. Anselm of Canterbury; one of my heroes in the Catholic Faith.
Although the Friday of the Easter Octave took precedence this year, let's conclude with a piece from St. Anselm's classical Monologion; a treatise perhaps best savoured in the company of loved ones, sitting by a silent waterway, with a refreshing pint of golden ale!
Rational Creation was Made to Love the Supreme Essence by St. Anselm of Canterbury
For a rational creature, to be rational is simply to be able to tell the difference between the just and the unjust, the true and the untrue, the good and the not good, and the greater and the lesser good.
But this ability by itself, without love and loathing (based on correct principles of judgement), is quite pointless and superfluous. Hence, it is clear that since the point of rational existence is to judge, according to rational principles, between the good, the less good and the no good, the point is also to love or spurn (with appropriate intensity) the object judged.
It is as patently obvious, therefore, as can be, that the rational creature is made for this purpose: to love the supreme essence above all other goods (insofar as the supreme essence is, after all, the good above all other goods).
Indeed, its purpose is, in fact, to love the supreme essence and only to love the other things for the sake of the supreme essence.
This is because the supreme essence is good through itself, while everything else is only good through it.
But, it cannot love the supreme essence unless it strives to become conscious of and to understand it.
So, it is quite clear, as a result, that what the rational creation ought to do, is to put all its power and all its will into becoming conscious of, understanding and loving the supreme good. This is what rational creation recognizes that its existence is for.
And, as the corpus of St. Anselm's deep writings demonstrates and makes clear: the supreme good, at the heart of all things, is none other than the Most Holy Trinity; made known to us by the Divine Revelation, which descends to, but raises to new and unimagineable heights and depths, the knowledge and love which may be accessed by our natural reason.
St. Anselm of Canterbury - Pray for us!
Pub Quiz! The Skewed Youth Synod of 2018
Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 20 April 2017 - 19:01:58 | by admin
The 215 year-old Priory pub in its final years as a local Merseyside landmark. In the background at the right, the Catholic parish church of English Martyrs can just be discerned.
Like many people in the Liverpool suburb where I grew up, we were deeply saddened when the lovely old Priory pub was suddenly demolished in April, 2015. What a terrible waste it seemed to do that to such a splendid and well-loved construction!
A valiant group of locals had tried to raise sufficient funds to save the pub building for the community, but it was tragically knocked down anyway to make way for new housing. To add insult to injury, the fine building was torn down just as the enthusiastic community group received an invitation to a seminar to look at the next round of European funding for such projects.
It is not hard to see the parallels with the ongoing and short-sighted destruction of all that pertains to beauty, order, continuity and tradition in the Catholic Church, in these crazy times.
The Priory had been a sturdy and attractive local landmark throughout my entire life. Many locals enjoyed their first pints there. The funeral reception of my brother's father-in-law was also held in the pub's main room. Angie and I had a few drinks in there when we first got engaged.
As the pictures above and below demonstrate, the building itself stood just yards away from the parish of English Martyrs; where I was received into the Catholic Church, just one week before my 21st birthday, in 1993.
In fact, about a decade later, the late Father Bob Starkey used to drink in there as a way of getting to know the locals. When ''Father Starx'' died, an old schoolfriend of mine who was not a Catholic, remarked just how much he would miss seeing that friendly little Catholic priest.
Having stood since 1800, the Priory was one of the oldest buildings in Sefton. As such, it naturally had a number of local historical associations.
In its earliest incarnation as the Litherland Hotel - it was still called that when I was a boy - it was a landmark coaching house in the, (then), surrounding countryside. Before the local Anglican parish of St. Philip's was constructed, the hotel's stables were used as a Sunday chapel; and on the ordinary days of the week as a small school. Prior to the completion of the large Litherland Town Hall, the building also housed the offices of the local council. In the 1960's, the Beatles are even reputed to have had the odd pint there, whenever they played gigs on the stage of the Litherland Town Hall.
From a Catholic perspective, the Priory pub, at least under its former title of the Litherland Hotel, was interesting because of its associations with the famous literary convert, Siegfried Sassoon.
Sassoon spent some time during the First World War at the long-gone Litherland Army Camp, just up the lane from the pub. It was whilst based there that Sassoon made the anti-war protest of throwing his Military Cross medal into the River Mersey, during a train trip up the coast to the Formby Golf Club.
Sassoon is another famous visitor who is said to have enjoyed supping pints at the historical pub during his stay on Merseyside.
In later life, of course, Sassoon became friends with such famous Catholics as Hilaire Belloc and that other famous literary convert Msgr. Ronald Knox.
Following a life of deep searching, Sassoon was himself received into the communion of the Catholic Church at Downside Abbey in Somerset, shortly after his 71st birthday, in September, 1957.
For me, the Priory pub is also associated with one of my first ever collisions with the tragic phenomenon of dissent within the Catholic Church.
A view of the Italianate English Martyrs church from the leafy School Lane in Litherland. To the left can be seen the historical Priory public house; the setting for the partaking of many a pleasant beer!
Being full of convert's zeal, and coming from a background where Protestant youth groups were often chock-full of Scripturally literate teens seeking to win converts for Christ, I was a little taken aback, during those early days as a Catholic in 1993, to discover an Archdiocesan youth group containing a class of students who were just longing for their 18th-birthdays, so they could leave the oversight of their parents and the Catholic Church! They could not understand why I, having just turned 21, had chosen to convert to the religion of their childhood.
Having gradually come to accept the mysteries of the Catholic Faith in the years prior to converting, and having been so impressed by the holiness of the parish priest and key parishioners during those years, I was bewildered to suddenly meet young tribal Catholics who did not know the basics about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or the Real Presence. It shocked me that they blasphemed, used foul language, scoffed throughout Mass, mocked the priest's sermons and joyfully sang R.E.M.'s, Losing My Religion! after church.
At that time, I could not have known of the widespread collapse of catechesis and Catholic education; or of the fact that, for many years in England, the lapsation rate of Catholic teens has stood around 90% per annum.
During those difficult days, a local ''Catholic'' youth leader snarled to me, with a determinedly pointed finger, that he was going to ''drag the Catholic Church kicking and screaming into the modern age!''
To accomplish this task, he devised a detailed questionnaire to seek young people's views on the Church's teaching on, you've guessed it, sexual morality.
In the weeks that followed, this young man spent untold hours at the bars of Merseyside's pubs and night-clubs, including the parish's own famous local the Priory, and sought the views of non-Catholic and lapsed Catholic drinkers and partygoers about the Catholic religion and her teachings on sexual ethics.
As you might expect, the results of this alchohol-fuelled exercise suggested that, if the Church were to get rid of its traditional teachings on sexual morality, then she could become popular with the bright-young things of modern society.
It is hardly rocket-science to grasp that, if you send out a skewed set of questions, to a skewed target group, then you are very likely to get a skewed set of answers...
One Sunday, during an evening sermon at Mass, this young man shared his findings with the various impressionable youths sat around him.
Being a commited and sensitive convert, and naturally concerned for the souls of all involved, I headed off after Mass to ask the late Canon to put a stop to all of this before it was too late.
Perhaps due to the fact that he had been around the block a few times in his five decades as a Catholic parish priest, the Canon laughed the whole thing off and told me not to worry about such trifles, as this could do little harm to the Church's true teachings.
Still, I was worried for the youngsters involved.
Within a couple of years, the great majority of those young people lapsed from the Faith. When I spoke with the young man about his questionnaire and other matters in the months that followed, I realized that he genuinely believed that changing the Church's teachings on things like the Sunday obligation and sexual morality would cause an influx of new converts, who had previously been put off.
That this is clearly a falsehood is, of course, manifest with the help of grace, orthodox formation and a bit of solid communal support.
I was put in mind of all these things recently when I heard that Pope Francis had sent out yet another pre-synodal questionnaire; this time for the forthcoming ''Youth Synod of 2018''.
A flavour of that questionnaire can be gleaned from the American National Catholic Reporter - hilariously nicknamed the ''Distorter'' in some orthodox circles - with its claim that the questionnaire is designed to help bishops not to teach or preach better ''at'' young people, but to become better at ''listening'' to their needs.
Oh, dear, the return of that old chestnut...
Again, that youth leader's skewed pub-quiz style questionnaire came to mind when I read this week in L'Osservatore Romano the following disturbing words, which were uttered by Pope Francis to a gathering of young people in Rome:-
Some people say: ''Let's hold the Synod for young Catholics, for those belonging to Catholic groups; that way it will be better''. No! The Synod is meant to be the Synod for and of all young people. Young people are its protagonists. ''But even young people who consider themselves agnostics?'' Yes! Even young people who no longer go to Church?'' Yes! ''Even young people who - I don't know if there are any here, maybe one or two - consider themselves atheists?'' Yes! This is the Synod of young people and we want to listen to one another: Every young person has something to say to others. He or she has something to say to priests, sisters, bishops and even the Pope. All of us need to listen to you!''
I just hope that Pope Francis and his aides really do have the ears and stomachs to hear just what some of the atheistic young people of today might really want to tell them...
As for the rest of us, and with the instructive experiences of Synods '14-'15 and Amoris Laetitia behind us, it might be worth readying ourselves for the skewed results which will likely issue from this latest synod...
Quarant 'Ore at English Martyrs late in 1990. I entered here as a Protestant with my then recently converted Catholic parents and received the grace to believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. At Easter 1993, one week before my 21st birthday, I would also follow my parents into full communion in the Catholic Church.
You know, when I was drawing nearer to the Catholic Church in my late teens and into my 21st year, it is true that I was impressed that the old parish priest made me feel welcome and valued. But, as with so many young people, I would have seen right through, and been put straight off, this kind of patronising attempt to be all things to all people.
Neither would I have considered the voices of other confused young people as sources of eternal truth, or mature wisdom.
Young people who really search for truth are looking for God; not for relativistic ideas from the non-evangelized/under catechised masses.
They look for popes, bishops and priests to impart guidance and leadership; not for embarassing old men to get down to their level in trying to sound hip, trendy or cool.
No, what drew me to Catholicism was the beauty of traditional liturgy, the clarity of traditional doctrine, the peace of traditional prayer and devotions, and the love of authentic Christian community bearing witness to the living Christ.
What is truly needed is the presentation of logical apologetics, together with the convinced and convincing witness, of those commited to the beauty of Catholic life and teaching.
Although there are clearly huge problems with the World Youth Day format, methodology and its execution, it remains the case that the popes who led these events prior to Francis could speak so clearly to the hearts of the young people involved, because they preached Christ to them by their words, actions and the overall trajectory of their programmes. In America, we know several married couples, home-school families and pro-life activists who received their conversions and vocations at the Denver World Youth Day in 1993.
What the young people of today, as in all days, need is to be put in touch with the living Lord Jesus Christ in the holiness of His True Church.
I fear that, with the approach being taken by Francis appearing to be so close to that taken by that young dissenting youth leader all those years ago, something so alien to the heart of the convert, then the title of one of Sassoon's friend's poems might be more appropriate as a theme for the Synod of 2018.
I speak, of course, of the famous Anthem for Doomed Youth by Lt. Wilfred Owen, Military Cross!
Can it really be that, just as the Synod on Marriage and Family tuned out to be just the opposite, then the Synod on Youth will turn out to be something old and worldly?
If so, then it is no wonder that all the ''old priories'' are being demolished...
Let us end with one of the timeless teachings that Pope St. John Paul II gave to young people.
Only in Christ do we find real love, and the fullness of life. And so I invite you today to look to Christ. When you wonder about the mystery of yourself, look to Christ Who gives you the meaning of life. When you wonder what it means to be a mature person, look to Christ Who is the fullness of humanity. And when you wonder about your role in the future of the world and of the United States, look to Christ. Only in Christ will you fulfill your potential.
Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 19 April 2017 - 10:33:28 | by admin
Notwithstanding his position as the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, we hear that Diarmuid Martin used his Good Friday Way of the Cross, as well as his Easter Sunday sermon, to disparage the Catholic Church and faithful.
And so, the faithful who attended those ceremonies hoping to enter prayerfully into the Easter mysteries, were instead exposed to the spectacle of their local Davos-attending prelate describing Catholicism as a ''faith of prohibitions'' and a ''religion of fear''.
Having bemoaned the Church's past treatment of single mothers, orphans, and those he described as ''gays and lesbians'', Martin also went on to lament the way in which Catholics can be ''so judgmental'' towards, ''those whom we decide have failed and those who drift outside our self-made ideas of respectability.''
Whilst it is true that spiritual pride and premature judgment of others are things to be avoided, and there has been a Jansenist streak in some aspects of Irish Catholicism, it is nevertheless distinctly odd to witness a supposedly Catholic Archbishop speaking of ''self-made ideas of respectability''.
Does that kind of rhetoric give any evidence of a belief in the Decalogue as a divinely revealed mystery; or that we should be exhorted to live by its precepts?
Actually, nothing could be more representative of a ''self-made idea of respectability'' than the present trend of jumping on populist band-wagons and ''virtue signalling'' support in the direction of homosexual ideology and its purveyors...
In recent decades, it has also become popular among trendies in Ireland and elsewhere, to scoff at the Church as though it were merely the source and provider of a phenomenon popularly derided as ''Catholic Guilt''.
I heard this brilliantly refuted some years ago, with the astute observation that all people have guilt, but it is the Catholics who deal with it!
In light of Archbishop Martin's crowd-pleasing - should that be mob-pleasing? - Easter semons, it is informative to study the overall trajectory of his public leadership in recent years.
And so, when Dublin's Mater Misericordiae University Hospital agreed to co-operate with Enda Kenny's new abortion act, Archbishop Martin claimed to have no powers in the governance of the hospital.
And this in spite of his status as the Hospital's president!
I think the correct and appropriate expression here would be to say, and that loudly, ''Oh, give us a break, Archbishop!''
Since then, and with the hospital's governing board confirming in 2015 that it has not altered its 2013 agreement to perform abortions on the premises, Archbishop Martin has merely temporized, ''sought clarification'' and even gone so far as to praise the hospital for its ''great tradition of caring for very difficult pregnancies and doing it well within the ethos of the hospital for years.''
Yes Archbishop, but what of the babies who may be being slaughtered there now under your episcopal nose? Have you nothing to say of the sacrilegious mass-murder of babies on your own turf, during your own watch? Perhaps a Good Friday meditation on the figure of Pontius Pilate would have been more in order.
Then there was the Archbishop's decidely odd stance during the build up to the ''legalization'' of ''homosexual marriage'' in Ireland.
It will be remembered that Archbishop Martin had spoken in favour of legal protection for homosexual ''civil-unions''. He also suggested that the Church had to have a ''reality check'' and change with the times.
In the days leading up to the infamous referendum of 2015, Irish Catholics hoping for some solid leadership from Archbishop Martin were left high and dry when he told the Irish Times that he had, ''no wish to stuff my religious views down other people's throats''.
We always thought it interesting that he seemed to have failed to see that, with such a lamentable response, the lacklustre Archbishop had done just that...
Even when the hearts of Catholics and other people of goodwill were left bleeding, whilst the elites of Ireland embraced sodomy with a massive alchohol-fuelled party in Dublin, Archbishop Martin could only comment, ''I appreciate how gay and lesbian men and women feel on this day. That they feel this is something enriching the way they live. I think it is a social revolution.''
And, as Church Militant has recalled, the seminary at Maynooth, where Archbishop Martin and other Irish bishops sit on the Board of Trustees, has been plagued in recent years by a homosexual sub-culture; as well as accounts of orthodox students being persecuted for their defence of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist and for expressing a desire to kneel for the Consecration.
All of which sounds like the very same kind of issues that opposed me in Ushaw seminary in the late 90's...
Permit us to say that, in light of this readily visible trajectory of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, it would appear not that he has too much of a sense of Catholic guilt, but rather that he needs to acquire one.
And as we noted above, everyone has guilt, but Catholics deal with it.
St. Patrick - Pray for us!
Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 16 April 2017 - 09:11:27 | by admin
Matthew 28:6: He is Risen, as He said!
We wish a blessed and grace-filled Easter to all our readers!
I managed to get over to the ICKSP Shrine Church of Ss Peter, Paul and Philomena in New Brighton for their splendid Easter vigil last night. The three young priests, the M.C., the servers, musicians, ''fire warden'' and all those who worked quietly behind the scenes did a marvellous job.
As ever, it was good to be there and to see so many of the faithful at Holy Mass to celebrate Easter. It is great to see so many young adults becoming immersed in the Sacred Tradition of the Church.
Thank you to those good people who spoke to me with kindness in the porch. Thanks too, to those who helped Angie with Mum there on Good Friday, whilst I fetched the car to the church door in the downpour. It was real Good Friday weather!
It was also very heartening to see that two more folks were being received into the Catholic Church at the end of last night's Vigil. Alas, I had to dart off to get back home to assist Angie, who was home helping Mum, so I could not stay to witness this or stop to chat with friends. Anyway, Happy Easter to you! We also pray that God will richly bless and keep safe those happy neophytes.
For readers everywhere, there follows one more meditation from the writings of St. Alphonsus de Liguori. It is taken from his encouraging selection of Meditations on Paradise, for the Easter Festival.
A picture of a Traditional Easter Vigil in Poland, which we came across recently at the St. Peter's List site.
The Joys of Heaven
Oh, happy are we if we suffer with patience on earth the troubles of this present life! Distress of circumstances, fears, bodily infirmities, persecutions and crosses of every kind, will one day come to an end; and if we be saved, they will all become for us subjects of joy and glory in paradise: Your sorrow (says the Saviour, to encourage us) shall be turned into joy (John 16:20).
So great are the delights of Paradise, that they can neither be explained nor understood by us mortals: Eye hath not seen (says the Apostle, St. Paul), nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor 2:9).
Beauties like the beauties of paradise, eye hath never seen; harmonies like unto the harmonies of Paradise, ear hath never heard; nor hath ever human heart gained a comprehension of the joys which God hath prepared for those who love Him.
Beautiful is the sight of a landscape adorned with hills, plains, woods, and views of the sea. Beautiful is the sight of a garden abounding with fruit, flowers, and fountains. Oh, how much more beautiful is paradise!
On this Easter Sunday 2017, we pray that God will richly bless all who read these words. Thank you for coming on here to read each day. Keep the Faith, and maintain your joy in the Risen Lord through prayer and praise each day - it will all be worth it in the end!
'Tis time for the opening of the chocolates!!!
A Happy and Holy Easter to You from Alan, Angeline and Doreen!
Awaiting the Resurrection from the Tomb
Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 15 April 2017 - 12:08:41 | by admin
N.B. - Notice to readers in NW England. I've just spotted that there will also be a Traditional Latin Mass on Easter Sunday at 11:30am, and Solemn Benediction at 3pm, at Holy Cross, in St. Helens. I've updated the information in our Easter Mass list below (please scroll down).
The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics, is Raphael Brown's classical compilation of the mystical visions of St. Elizabeth of Schoenau, St. Bridget of Sweden, Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich and Ven. Mary of Agreda.
With all the usual caveats pertaining to private revelation, there follows a piece taken from that book's depiction of the events immediately after the Crucifixion. It is provided as a source of devotion and prayer as we all await the Resurrection on this Holy Saturday, 2017.
When I saw that my Son's Heart had been stabbed through, I felt that my own heart was likewise pierced, and it was a wonder that it did not break.
Later my Son was taken down from the Cross. Two men set up three ladders. One reached to His feet, the second came to His arms under the shoulders, and the third reached the middle of His body.
Then one of the men climbed up the second ladder and drove the nail out of the one arm. Then he moved the ladder and drove the nail out of the other hand, for the nails exended far beyond the beam of the Cross.
Then, while he held the body up and slowly came down a bit, the other man went up the ladder that reached to the feet and drove out the nails. When they lowered the body near the ground, one supported it at the head and the other at the feet. But I, who was His Mother, held Him in the middle. Thus we carried Him to a stone which I had covered with clean linens.
All my Son's limbs had become stiff and cold in death, and the blood which had flowed over them during His Passion adhered to them. But I was indeed consoled that I could touch His body and take Him onto my lap, examine His wounds and dry up the blood.
I took His white body onto my knees. It was like the body of a man suffering from leprosy. His eyes were lifeless and filled with blood. His mouth was as cold as snow. His beard was twisted together like a rope. His face was contracted. He lay on my knees as He had hung on the Cross, like a human body that has been twisted apart in all its limbs.
I did not want to bend His arms, which had grown so stiff that in trying to fold them on His chest, I was only able to place them over His abdomen. His knees too could not be altogether stretched out, but remained up, as they had stiffened on the Cross.
Then, they laid Him out on some clean linen, and with my cloth I washed His wounds and His limbs. And with my fingers I closed His eyes and His mouth, which were open when He died.
But I did not sew up the cloth, for I knew for sure that He would not decay in the tomb.
Then Magdalene and other Holy Women came up, and also there were many holy angels present, like bright sunbeams, to render honour to their Creator.
It would be impossible for anyone to describe how sad I was then. I was like a woman who gives birth to a child; after the birth her whole body is quivering, and although her pain is such that she can hardly breathe, yet in her heart she feels the greatest possible joy, because she knows that her son which she has borne will never again have to go through that suffering which he has just experienced. Thus, though I felt a grief over the death of my Son that could not be compared to any other, I also rejoiced in my soul, because I knew that my Son would not die again, but would live forever. And thus, some joy was mingled with sorrow.
Then they placed Him in the tomb.
Oh, how gladly would I have allowed them to entomb me alive with my Son, if it had been His will! I can truly say that when my Son was entombed, there were two Hearts in one sepulchre. Is there not the saying: where your treasure is, there is also your heart? Therefore, my thoughts and my heart were always in the Tomb of my Son.
After all these things had been accomplished, the good John came and led me to his house.
So you see, my daughter, what my Son suffered for you.
Consider therefore how great was my suffering at the Death of my Son, and it will not be hard for you to give up the world.
May God grant us this grace as we prepare our hearts this day, awaiting the Easter Vigil and the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Lumen Christi - Deo Gratias!
Good Friday - Let us Compassionate and Love Our Saviour!
Torch of The Faith News on Friday 14 April 2017 - 23:43:03 | by admin
This is what sin does to Love! This is why we must all stop offending God, repent and be converted. This is why we must resist bad shepherds who promote heresies, the corruption of schoolchildren, sacrilegious Holy Communions, adultery, homosexuality, false religions and the dismemberment of the Church. Though perhaps, by nature, we would much rather be silent and have a quiet life, this is why we cannot be so. In the end, it is a matter of love; for, as St. Francis of Assisi lamented: Love is not loved!
A Meditation by St. Alphonsus de Liguori
O my dear Redeemer! Well do I recognize in these Thy wounds, and in Thy lacerated body, as it were through so many lattices, the tender affection which Thou dost retain for me.
Since, then, in order to pardon me, Thou hast not pardoned Thyself, oh, look upon me now with the same love wherewith Thou didst one day look upon me from the Cross, whilst Thou wert dying for me. Look upon me and enlighten me, and draw my whole heart to Thyself, that so, from this day forth, I may love none else but Thee.
Let me not ever be unmindful of Thy death. Thou didst promise that, when raised up upon the Cross, Thou wouldst draw all our hearts to Thee. Behold this heart of mine, which, made tender by Thy death, and enamoured of Thee, desires to offer no further resistance to Thy calls. Oh, do Thou draw it to Thyself, and make it all Thine own.
Thou hast died for me, and I desire to die for Thee; and if I continue to live, I will live for Thee alone. O pains of Jesus, O ignominies of Jesus, O death of Jesus, O love of Jesus! Fix yourselves within my heart, and let the remembrance of you abide there always, to be continually smiting me, and inflaming me with love.
I love Thee, O infinite goodness; I love Thee, O infinite love. Thou art and shalt ever be, my one and only love. O Mary, Mother of Love, do thou obtain me love.
Our Lady of Sorrows - Pray for us!
Good Friday - The Novena of Divine Mercy Chaplets Begins Today
Torch of The Faith News on Friday 14 April 2017 - 21:28:45 | by admin
There is a beautiful sequence of the Sanctus Hymn, during the period of the Adoration of the Cross, in the Traditional Liturgy for Good Friday.
This sequence includes the alternate singing of verses by cantors in Greek and in Latin.
These verses include:-
Agios o Theos/Sanctus Deus - O Holy God.
Agios ischyros/Sanctus fortis - O Holy Strong One.
Agios athanatos eleison imas/Sanctus immortalis, miserere nobis - O Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.
Whilst these words were being chanted, I was put in mind of those final prayers in the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which pray: Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One - Have mercy on us and on the whole world!
At that point, I suddenly remembered that the Novena of Divine Mercy Chaplets commences today in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday.
Please join together with us in praying this novena of chaplets for the conversion of souls back to God's True Faith.
Perhaps we might especially pray for those souls who experience a desire for God, but who fear to go to Confession.
Let us pray that they, and the many lapsed Catholics that we all know, will be given the graces necessary to come home to the peace and love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, while there is still time.
Our Lady, Mother of Mercy - Pray for us!
St. Faustina - Pray for us!
A Good Friday Meditation
Torch of The Faith News on Friday 14 April 2017 - 08:40:59 | by admin
Jesus Upon the Cross - from a Good Friday Meditation by St. Alphonsus de Liguori
Jesus from the Cross, asks us not so much for our compassion as for our love; and, if even He does ask our compassion, He asks it solely in order that the compassion may move us to love Him. As being infinite goodness, He already merits all our love; but when placed upon the Cross, it seems as if He sought for us to love Him, at least out of compassion.
Ah, my Jesus, and who is there that will not love Thee, while confessing Thee to be the God that Thou art, and contemplating Thee upon the Cross?
Oh, what arrows of fire dost Thou not dart at souls from that throne of love! Oh, how many hearts hast Thou not drawn to Thyself from that Cross of Thine!
O wounds of Jesus! O beautiful furnaces of love! Admit me, too, amongst yourselves to burn, not indeed with that fire of Hell which I have deserved, but with holy flames of love for that God Who has been willing to die for me, consumed by torments.
O my dear Redeemer! Receive back a sinner, who, sorrowing for having offended Thee, is now earnestly longing to love Thee.
I love Thee, I love Thee, O infinite goodness, O infinite love. O Mary, O Mother of beautiful love! Obtain for me a greater measure of love, to consume me for that God Who has died consumed of love for me.
Let us open our hearts and pray earnestly to receive the abundant graces, which Our Crucified Saviour pours out from His Wounded Heart today.