Our Lady of Fatima - Pray For Us!

Torch of The Faith News on Friday 12 May 2017 - 01:21:17 | by admin


Sr. Lucia of Fatima to Cardinal Carlo Caffarra: The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage and the family... Don't be afraid, because whoever works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought against and resisted in every way, because this is the decisive issue... Nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head.

Sr. Lucia to Fr. Fuentes: (Our Lady) told me that the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Virgin. And a decisive battle is the final battle, where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat. Also, from now on we must choose sides. Either we are for God, or we are for the devil. There is no other possibility.

Look, Father, the Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary. She has given this efficacy to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal, or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, or the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary. With the Holy Rosary, we will save ourselves. We will sanctify ourselves. We will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls. 

Our Lady of Fatima: The sins of the world are very great... If men only knew what eternity is, they would do everything in their power to change their lives.

Fly from riches and luxury; love poverty and silence; have charity, even for bad people.

More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason... Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much... Woe to women lacking in modesty. 

Look, my daughter, at my Heart encircled by these thorns, with which men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, strive to console me, and so I announce: I promise to assist at the hour of death with the grace necessary for salvation all those who, with the intention of making reparation to me, will, on the First Saturdays of Five Consecutive months, go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, say five decades of the beads, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.

I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart... If people attend to my requests, Russia will be converted and the world will have peace.

In The End, My Immaculate Heart Will Triumph!

Our Lady of Fatima - Pray for us!

Inspiring News from Preston!

Torch of The Faith News on Friday 12 May 2017 - 00:57:47 | by admin

We were delighted to receive and read the latest circular update from the ICKSP shrine church of St. Walburge in Preston this week.

This was packed with encouraging news, information and beautiful photographs from inside the majestic shrine church.

As these pictures show, Bishop Michael Campbell, the local ordinary of the Diocese of Lancaster, had been to the shrine to celebrate a Pontifical High Mass for Easter Sunday.

The ICKSP priests joyfully expressed in their newsletter just how good it was for them to receive such encouragement from their local bishop and diocese.

There was even a beautiful and traditional wedding at the shrine church on Easter Sunday!

It was also great to read that another lady was received into the Catholic Church there, during the recent Easter Vigil.

This means that both of the ICKSP shrines, as well as the FSSP shrine, all in this north-west region of England, have each received new converts into the Church at Easter. It is a real sign of life and faith, and the beauty of Catholic Tradition, to witness these good things happening. Please pray for these neophytes to receive many graces and blessings from Our Lord.

The St. Walburge's shrine newsletter also reveals that a number of adults and young people have been happily attending catechetical lessons after Sunday Mass, in order to learn the history, symbolism and doctrine of the traditional rites of the Mass and sacraments.
The community life of the parish is continuing to grow there with locals attending for Sacraments and devotions like the 40-Hours of Eucharistic Adoration; serving Holy Mass; helping to clean, prepare and improve the church and presbytery; and circulating a relic of the veil of the Virgin Mary from house to house to unite in prayer and love of Our Mother in Heaven.

We were intrigued to hear of the parish mascot, a Black Labrador called Guinness, who is encouraging passers-by to stop off to see her. As the young Canons at the shrine joke in their newsletter: ''From the dog to the church there is only one step!''

The St. Walburge shrine church will host a May Procession in honour of Our Lady, with Pontifical Low Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael Campbell, on Sunday 28th May, 2017 at 10:30am.

It all sounds close to Heaven doesn't it?
And with that 309ft-tall spire being the third tallest church spire in this country - only the spires at the medieval cathedrals in Norwich and Salisbury stand taller - who can doubt that it is!

Please pray for the ongoing success of this inspiring shrine church.

St. Walburge - Pray for us! 

Be United Through the Cross of Christ

Torch of The Faith News on Friday 12 May 2017 - 00:31:13 | by admin

Angie's parents have just rediscovered and sent us over a copy of this picture from Ireland.

It features Angie and I when we first became engaged to be married, and travelled with her parents to pray at the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, in 2001.

As you can see, we were a tad younger and slimmer in those days!

By God's grace, we were able to build up our friendship, faith and love, during the time of our courtship, by going regularly together to Confession and Holy Mass; as well as praying together during our regular ''dates''.

In the age in which we are all living through, we would say that such practices - together with the willed decision to cooperate together with Christ in living a chaste courtship and marriage - are more essential then they ever were before. Pre-marriage and post-marriage catechesis urgently needs to express this to help couples and families stay together in these times. 

When we got married in 2002, someone gave us a blessed Crucifix and this became the focus of prayer in our home.

When we had our first real row (!) about a week after our honeymoon, we went to different parts of the new home to stew things over. As you do! About half an hour later, we each went independently to the foot of the cross to pray and ask for God's forgiveness. That is where we found each other again; at the foot of Christ's Cross. It was an important lesson for us both. 

As the years have progressed until the present, we have found it beneficial to also renew our baptism and wedding vows to Jesus and to each other at breakfast time. On the days when we omit this daily practice, over the porridge, tea and toast each day, things never seem quite right!

In recent years, praying the daily Rosary together each evening with a lit candle and the cross has also become very important to us.

I say all this not to boast, because, actually, these are the bare minimum things that Catholic families need to do in all times. Rather, I share these things because, in an age when Holy Matrimony is under such grave attack from outside - and even more tragically even from inside the Church - seeing this picture from Ireland has again reminded us of just how essential it really is to keep the Cross of Christ at the very centre of one's life and marriage.

This must be done through going regularly together to Confession and Holy Mass; and by praying the Rosary together as a couple, and with any children that God chooses to bless marriages and families with.

Sometimes in marriage one becomes the cross of one's spouse; and vice versa.

By contemplating the Cross together on a daily basis, couples can be reminded of the example that Jesus gives us, to show that all true love is self-sacrificial for the temporal and eternal wellbeing of the beloved. As couples and their children grow and (hopefully!) mature together, and joys, victories, sicknesses, sufferings and trials come and go, the spouses can find example, strength and grace for living in true love together, from the Crucified Christ. This is true, of course, because with Jesus, the Cross always leads to the Resurrection.

For those whose marriages have been broken by various circumstances and tragedies, or whose spouse has died or lost their memory, the Cross remains as an essential solace and source of strength.

We pray that all Catholic families will make the blessed Cross of Christ the centre of their hearts, marriages and homes.

Please pray for all married couples, and for those whose marriages have become broken, to draw fresh grace and strength from the victorious Cross of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

May the Holy Family - Pray for us all in these times!

Events Honouring Our Lady of Fatima in NW Region of England

Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 11 May 2017 - 23:43:54 | by admin

On Saturday 13th May, the 100th anniversary of the apparitions and miraculous events at Fatima will commence with the canonization of Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francesco Marto at Fatima. I am sure you will agree that this is a very important day in the history of the Church; which also reminds us of the urgent need to pray for the Holy Father and for poor sinners.

Here are some of the events being held here in the NW region of England to celebrate and honour Our Lady of Fatima. Readers in the region are encouraged to attend where possible. Wherever you are reading this from: Please join with us in praying for the success of these important events.

1. May Procession through the City of Liverpool
The traditional Marian Procession through the streets of the City of Liverpool is one of the remarkable success stories of these times.

It was happily revived in 2010; with around 50 participants taking part that year.

Since then, the event has been growing significantly each year; with around 250 souls taking part in 2014, and as many as 500 in May 2015!

That year, Mr. Jim Ross, the organizer told the Catholic Herald: ''Everyone enjoyed it. Our prayers were answered for good weather. We're more than pleased... It was a joy. A lot of people in the street were stopping and asking what it was all about. People did not believe that hymns were being sung on the streets of Liverpool. They thoroughly enjoyed it.''

The procession this year will again be led by Liverpool's Archbishop Malcolm McMahon to mark the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. The event will include the Marian Procession, the recitation of the Holy Rosary and the singing of traditional Marian anthems. The organizers have again extended a special welcome to all children who are receiving their First Holy Communion this year.

This year's procession will commence at 2pm on Saturday, 13th May from the convent of the Missionary Sisters of Charity on Seel Street in Liverpool.

We managed to participate in the procession in May 2012. Although we cannot get there this year, we highly recommend this Marian event to readers in the region, as it provides a special opportunity to take part in a public witness to the Catholic Faith, in honour of Our Blessed Lady, under the public leadership of the local Archbishop.

It will give Catholics in the area an opportunity to pray with, and for, the Archbishop of Liverpool; perhaps you might even get chance to ask him about what is going on with the CES over a pleasant cuppa afterwards!

2. Day of Our Lady of Fatima at the ICKSP Shrine of Ss Peter, Paul and Philomena in New Brighton.
This is another special event that we last got to in 2012. Again, although we cannot get there this time around, we highly recommend it as a time for receiving graces, honouring Our Lady and meeting with other like-minded Catholic souls for sacraments, teaching, prayer and socializing. What the ICKSP priests and their lay folk are achieving there, with the help of God's grace, is very heartening indeed.

The details are:-

Sunday, 14th May.

10:30 - Sung Traditional Latin Mass (Celebrant and preacher: the good Fr. Sean Riley of the Archdiocese of Liverpool).

Followed by May Procession and Crowning of Our Lady of Fatima statue.

1pm - Social and Buffet Lunch (Soup and sandwiches in the Presbytery).

2pm - Concert in honour of Our Lady.

3pm - Rosary and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

3. Votive Traditional Latin Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at FSSP Shrine Church of St. Mary in Warrington.
The inspiring fathers of the FSSP will offer the Votive Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin of Fatima, in the Traditional Rite, on Saturday, 13th May at 12:10pm, in the beautiful shrine church of St. Mary's on Buttermarket Street, Warrington.

It is lovely to see that the FSSP community are also inviting all the households in their parish to host a missionary statue of Our Lady of Fatima in their homes for one week each, commencing on 13th May. The statue will be situated in a place of honour in each home and the family there will commit to praying at least one decade of the Rosary before Our Lady each day of the week the statue is in their home.

These are a few of the beautiful events being held in the NW region of England to mark Our Lady of Fatima. Please join us in praying for their success.

Our Lady of Fatima - Pray for us! 

Absolutely Null and Utterly Void

Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 10 May 2017 - 18:07:45 | by admin

Knuckles and Thumbs: Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio exchanges a handshake and some words with Archbishop Georg Ganswein at the Vatican.

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio served as an auxiliary bishop under the ''St. Gallen Mafia's'' own modernistic groupie, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.

In 2014, he intervened to have Fr. Mauro Inzoli reinstated to the priestly state by Pope Francis. It will be remembered that Inzoli had previously been defrocked in the days of Pope Benedict XVI, after being found guilty of the sexual abuse of young children in his pastoral care. Even though Pope Francis invited Inzoli to a life of humility and prayer, he participated in a conference (on the theme of the family, of all things) in January, 2015.

In February this year, Cardinal Coccopalmerio released a book on the problematic eighth chapter of Amoris Laetitia. As you will likely recall, there was some hoo-hah at the time, because Palmerio's book had originally been touted as being some kind of semi-official response to the Dubia. However, that particular narrative crumbled away to nothing, when Coccopalmerio failed to turn up to the book launch of his own text!

Perhaps the most charitable thing that I can find to say about Cardinal Coccopalmerio's book is that it presents its readers with a sacrilegious travesty.

His Eminence is back in the news of the English-speaking world again this week, thanks to an article that first appeared yesterday in the UK's modernistic weekly, The Tablet.

The general tenor of that article can be discerned in the opening heading, which brazenly asserts: Leo XIII's remarks that Anglican orders are ''absolutely null and utterly void'' have been a major stumbling block to Catholic-Anglican unity.

It goes downhill from there!

The sub-heading refers, of course, to Pope Leo XIII's teachings which were so clearly articulated in 1896, through the Magisterial Papal Bull, Apostolicae curae.

Those teachings were reaffirmed in 1998, when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a doctrinal commentary to accompany St. John Paul II's apostolic letter, Ad tuendam fidem. This official commentary described Pope Leo XIII's declaration on the nullity of Anglican orders as one of ''those truths connected to revelation by historical neccessity and which are to be held definitively, but are not able to be declared as divinely revealed.''

In blatant disregard for the clarity of these official teachings, Cardinal Coccopalmerio is quoted by The Tablet as saying: ''When someone is ordained in the Anglican church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say that nothing has happened, that everything is invalid... This is about the life of a person and what he has given... these things are so very relevant!''

In a line which both betrays a decidely relativistic way of thinking, and bears interesting parallels to Pope Francis' most recent outburst against supposed ''rigidity'' in some young Catholics, Cardinal Coccopalmerio has also suggested: ''We have had, and we still have, a very rigid understanding of validity and invalidity: this is valid, and that is not valid. One should be able to say: 'this is valid in a certain context, and that is valid in another context'.''

Well, it would be fun to see how far His Eminence might get in pushing that line, whilst trying to board a plane with an invalid passport one of these days!

It would appear on the face of it that Cardinal Coccopalmerio does not subscribe to the basic philosophical principle of reality; which straightforwardly posits that something cannot be and not be at one and the same time. Any one of us can demonstrate the validity of this principle, simply by looking in the mirror...

We see another example of the cardinal's disturbing subjectivism later in the article at The Tablet, when he claims of the Church's relationships with other ecclesial communities: ''We say: 'you don't have this reality, which is a matter of faith, and therefore you are divided from me.' But in fact, it isn't a matter of faith, you only pretend it to be.''

Given this remarkable level of relativism, it is interesting to note that the cardinal suggests that the only divisions that should exist are those over ''fundamental things'' such as the Divinity of Christ.

Does that then mean that Cardinal Coccopalmerio does not consider the Sacred Priesthood of Jesus Christ to be a ''fundamental'' matter?

It certainly appears that way from his slick sophistry in attempting to bypass the clear teaching and words of Pope Leo XIII.

No matter how friendly one wants to be with Anglicans, we must always readily admit as Catholics, that Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ instituted the Catholic priesthood for the salvation and sanctification of all peoples who would respond to His graces until the end of time.

This is the reason the Church has to be so clear on who is and who is not a validly ordained priest. Only the true priesthood of Jesus Christ has His unfathomable authority and power to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, forgive sins, preach and lead in His Name, and command the demons to obey Our Blessed Lord. 

In the spiritual warfare for souls, only the enemy of Christ and those countless souls would want to see an army becoming equipped with dummy weapons. It really does make all the difference in the world if a priest is a true priest or not. Just ask any exorcist.

I do not say this to be in any way unkind to Protestants. Quite the contrary: Catholics have a duty to defend this truth, in order for all peoples to come to knowledge of the truth for their salvation and sanctification by Christ. We do this that all may be united as one in the truth.

Perhaps in recent times, in the midst of the heat of controversy and polemic, I have sounded somewhat harsh in my articles on Anglicanism.

However, the deepest motivation has hopefully been to expose present errors and point toward the truth for the good of all who read those pieces.

I have no doubt that there are still many good and sincere people serving as Anglican ministers. I have to say that, as a child growing up in Protestant circles, I met a good number of vicars who would have been utterly scandalized by the attitudes, irreverences and worldliness of some Catholic priests that I have known. I also remember a good Anglican community wherein the vicar and folk gathered around my family to support us in the wake of the tragic death of a family member in 1983. As a Catholic, I have to admit that we never had that kind of support when my dear father died in 2012.

But this is not really the point.

Christ's Catholic Church and priesthood are just that: they are Christ's. As such they have His institutional foundation, His ongoing authority and His inifinite power to save and heal souls.

Aside from the relativistic philosophical errors present in Cardinal Coccopalmerio's sophistry, another key weakness is his insistence that what the Anglican minister has given is so relevant to the question of validity. 

From a Catholic perspective, this appears almost Pelagian. It is suggestive of a very post-modern Christology ''from below''.

In charity, I think it right that we should acknowledge that Anglican ministers who have given their lives to Christ and their flocks, at least according to the lights they have received, should be given the credit for that.

However, in theological terms, this expresses only their sincerity. It can in no way impact on whether or not their ''orders'' were valid.

This is because the sacred priesthood of Christ is an objective reality; which is given and received in objective ways by the very authority of Christ and His Church. That is to say by the valid ordination ceremony given by a validly consecrated bishop ordaining priests according to the mind and heart of the Church.

When the Catholic Church insists that Anglican ''orders'' are completely null and utterly void, this is not done in a kind of ''Yah Boo Sucks!'' kind of way - and I am sorry if some of my more polemical contributions have given that impression - but rather so that all can find, and receive salvation and healing from, Christ's true priesthood in the Church which He founded.

Perhaps typically, given the subjectivism of his overall approach in the article at The Tablet, Cardinal Coccopalmerio's concluding words on the matter suggest that the situation regarding a ''revision'' of Pope Leo XIII's words is currently somewhat ''unclear''.

If, like most people who think the issue through with the help of God's grace, you are one of those people who recognizes that a thing cannot be and not be at the same time, whilst also preferring a little more clarity and substance when it comes to the matter of your eternal salvation (!), then you will likely gain great spiritual benefit from prayerfully reading Pope Leo XIII's Apostolicae curae. It is Magisterial teaching, after all.

As Shakespeare noted: To be, or not to be, now that really is the question!

Catholic Education: Does He Who Pays the Piper Call the Tune?

Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 09 May 2017 - 17:58:00 | by admin

I'm happily back from the dentist with a temporary dental fix and, less happily, reading about the Catholic Education Service's attempt to defend the remarkably un-Catholic ''homophobic bullying'' document, which we critiqued here yesterday.

The CES's defence is presented in an article at yesterday's online edition of the Catholic Herald. Under the circumstances, both the CES's defence and the Catholic Herald's article can at best be described as tepid.   

Mark Lambert at De Omnibus Dubitandum Est rightly pulls the Catholic Herald up, for lamely suggesting that some of the document's critics have, ''pointed out that there are similarities in wording in the document to that of materials produced by gay rights groups Stonewall and lgbtyouth Scotland.''

As Mr. Lambert states: ''Errr no, critics have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that the document contains exactly the same text as huge swathes of the Stonewall and lgbtyouth Scotland websites!''

And if you click the links provided by both the Catholic Herald and Mark Lambert to the Countercultural Father blog, you will indeed see, from the scanned-in pictorial evidence, that this is certainly the case.

Mark Lambert also raises the important question about a ''donation'' which the CES has said that it received towards the costs of circulating its new document. In light of the fact that the content looks to have been directly lifted from the works of these pro-homosexuality organizations, Mark wonders: ''Were Stonewall the mystery contributor who financed the distribution to every school in the country?''

It is a question that is as interesting as it is troubling...

I think that there is also another intriguing angle.

The Catholic Herald cites the following words from the CES's own defence of the document: ''How schools tackle homophobic bullying is something to which Ofsted is now paying specific attention. As such, both schools and dioceses have asked for guidance on this and how it can be approached within a Catholic context.''

The fact that such guidance looks to have been taken pretty much verbatim from the very promoters of homosexual ideology suggests that those in charge of Catholic Education are looking for post-modern secular society to enlighten the Church, rather than for the Church to be the leaven of Christ in the heart of society.

Any tuned-in Catholic must surely want to know why this is happening.

Is it about the freedom to admit a majority of Catholic students? Is it about money? What else is it about?

At the beginning of the Guardian's recent interview with Archbishop McMahon, the paper's writer Peter Wilby alluded to the CES's schools' admissions policy regarding the Church's required freedom to admit only children from Catholic families. Wilby noted that Theresa May's government had recently agreed to this policy.

Later in his portrayal of the interview, Wilby develops this theme in his description of the removal from free schools of the requirement of ''a 50% cap on places that could be reserved for children of a particular faith.'' This removal has encouraged the Church to look into the available options. This is why Wilby then noted, ''to McMahon's great pleasure, May has abolished the cap and the church (sic) will embrace the opportunity to open free schools. Taxpayers will meet the entire cost (as they do for its 433 schools converted to academy status) whereas, under the voluntary-aided arrangement that covered most faith schools until now, churches must contribute 10% of building costs.''

Something that people like Peter Wilby appear to overlook is that Catholic parents are tax-payers too. It only makes sense that they should be able to get something back for their money, in terms of the education of their own children; whilst also having an important input into their children's education and moral well-being at school.

I can well understand the concerns of those Catholics who fear that the CES is agreeing to become increasingly compliant to government policies, in order to avoid rocking the boat and thus enjoy the practical and fiscal benefits of having tax-payer funded schools, which require no cap on the number of children from faith-based families.

Folks wonder whether some deal has been cut with the government. A kind of going along to get along, if you will.

Whether it is because of money, practicality or, as I suspect, something more sinister in terms of bringing Catholic schools and students into the new order en bloc, it is an observable fact that supposedly Catholic schools are becoming ever more compliant; and thus increasingly walking in lock-step with policies, programmes and curricula which seem to directly contradict the authentic nature and mission of truly Catholic schools.

The question is why?

Whilst we all ask that question, I must also say that it baffles me that, even though the facts are in the open for all to see, so many Catholic clergy remain silent on this matter, shun all discussion of it, or worse still, even promote it and its propagators, by drawing attention to only half of the story.

At the end of the day, it will be the children and families in their schools who will be impacted by these changes of policy from above.

Sometimes it all leaves us chaps in the laity feeling like the Dutch kid of popular legend; standing out in the cold, with our fingers stuck firmly into the hole in the wall of the dyke, and trying our level best to keep back the hostile surge of water...

Another Catholic Education Service Scandal

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 08 May 2017 - 15:33:06 | by admin

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon: Archbishop of Liverpool and Chairman of the Catholic Education Service (CES).

Regular readers will recall that, over the course of several years, we have spoken here about problems relating to the so-called Catholic Education Service (CES). Most recently, we have been lamenting the warm welcome given by the Chairman of the CES, Liverpool's Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, to sex and relationships-education being made compulsory, by the British government, for children in all Catholic schools from the age of four upwards.

As we have already said, this represents nothing short of a betrayal of Catholic parents and their children; who should be able to expect better than this from their ecclesiastical shepherds.

You will also recall that we have consistently situated our critique of this particular matter within the wider context, in which Archbishop Malcolm McMahon had appointed Mr. Greg Pope to a highly-paid leadership position in the CES: even though that former MP had a parliamentary track-record of voting in an anti-life and anti-family manner; and had signed parliamentary motions in support of international and domestic abortion providers, and in support of condom manufacturers who had helped with ''National Condom Week'' in UK schools.

Aware of this background, we were interested to learn that Archbishop McMahon had recently given an interview on the theme of Catholic education to the leftist Guardian newspaper.

This interview was linked to by Fr. Bede Rowe and by Fr. Simon Henry on their respective blog-sites.

Fr. Rowe noted: ''In a generally negative interview with Archbishop McMahon, the Archbishop puts forward many interesting points.'' After listing a series of positive quotes from the interview, Fr. Rowe concludes: ''Read the whole thing, it really is quite excellent. The writer of course, simply doesn't get Catholic Education, but perhaps that says more about the liberal intelligentsia, than it does Catholic Education.''

With a H/T to Fr. Rowe, Fr. Henry's linking article concluded: ''It's all about Catholic Education, of which His Grace rightly defends the principles (whatever some of us might think of the content).''

I've not been able to concentrate on reading and responding to this interview until now, because I broke one of my teeth eating a pizza a couple of days ago. This has left the tooth's nerve painfully exposed. As is the way with these things, my dentist is away until tomorrow morning, and I am feeling at a pretty low ebb today. Nevertheless, as I think that this matter is so important, I shall endeavour to make some kind of articulate reflections in what follows. As ever, I must ask you to also bear with the fact that, since being hacked into, our website remains annoyingly unable to make working links within this blog-page. I must ask you to therefore make your own searches as appropriate to access the various articles mentioned herein. 

In the first instance, Mark Lambert at De Omnibus Dubitandum Est has already provided a response to the Archbishop's interview, which is splendidly on the money in terms of the key issues and points made.

Following from that, a point which Mark mentioned in his initial article, and has since followed up in a subsequent article, has also been dealt with by a number of other laymen writers.

I speak, of course, of the critiques of the title, content and methodology employed in the CES's new document on the theme of ''homophobic'' bullying. These have been written by the aforementioned Mark Lambert; Dr. Joseph Shaw at the Latin Mass Chairman's Blog; ''Ben Trovato'' at the Countercultural Father; and the courageous American author, Joseph Sciambra. 

I would agree with Fr. Henry and Fr. Rowe that Archbishop McMahon does make a number of positive points regarding the principles of Catholic Education in his Guardian interview; an exchange which was clearly clouded by what looked to be a set of decidely anti-Catholic pre-suppositions in the interviewer.

For a few examples: the Archbishop defends the Church's right to give priority to children from Catholic homes; points out that, in Catholic schools, the proportion of students from deprived areas and ethnic minorities is higher than the average in other schools; affirms that the rights of parents to educate their children as they wish is fundamental; and highlights the fact that Catholic schools aim to be ''loving places''.

That is all well and good.

However, there is clearly much more to the Guardian interview than just that.

In light of the other contents of the interview, I would certainly find it hard to agree with Fr. Rowe's depiction of the Archbishop's performance as being really ''quite excellent''. Judging from the comments in various on-line discussion forums, others would agree with me on this.

For instance, in one of his highlighted plus-points regarding the questions and answers to and from the Archbishop in the Guardian interview, Fr. Rowe includes: ''Did some pupils have same-sex parents? Why would same-sex parents want to send their children to a Catholic school?''

What is not mentioned by Fr. Rowe, is that in the original article Archbishop McMahon also adds the words, ''But if they did, we would treat them and their children with respect.''

Well, as persons perhaps, but where is the clear articulation of the full Catholic approach and teaching in that statement? As it stands, those who read the Archbishop's response could be forgiven for thinking that it shows some kind of approval to homosexual pairings and parenting. It certainly shows no disapproval.

Also the context for the Archbishop's above-mentioned depiction of Catholic schools as ''loving places'' came in a response to the question of what would happen if an unmarried teacher became pregnant. Archbishop McMahon simplistically replied: ''I don't think that would be a problem. It might be quite exciting for the children. Catholic schools are very loving places you know. Half the teachers in our schools are non-Catholics. But if they apply for jobs in our schools, they will, if they have any gumption at all, familiarize themselves with what the Church teaches. If they can't subscribe to that in a general sense, there are plenty of other jobs around.''

So, to put it frankly, the Archbishop thinks it normal that Catholic children would be ''quite excited'' that their teacher had been found out fornicating; and apparently had neither plans to marry before the birth of her child, nor shame in front of the students or community for such actions.

Again, on the question of divorced head-teachers wanting to ''re-marry'', His Grace rather lamely suggested, ''They would have to follow their consciences. There is no prying.''

Are these really the responses one would expect from a Catholic bishop in charge of the education of the entire nation's Catholic youth?

On the issue of ''managing fertility'', Archbishop McMahon claimed: ''If older children want to talk about artificial methods, the teachers would encourage debate and present arguments for natural methods. It would be an open debate. We are a rational organization.''

Again, is that a thorougly Catholic response that clearly presents the objective truth of Catholic moral teaching?

A little more positively from a Catholic perspective, Archbishop McMahon did conclude: ''But if we don't bring up our children to know that we are sexual beings for a greater purpose and not just for sexual gratification, we are failing in our duty.''

I say ''a little more positively'' because, although the thrust of that statement is actually very positive, the Archbishop does still seem to make an unnecessarily reductionist concession to the secularist mindset, when he speaks of human beings as though they were ''sexual beings''. The human being has intrinsic gender and sexuality, but none of us are reduced only to the sexual faculty. It seems to me that we are no more to be described as ''sexual beings'' as we are to be spoken of as ''digestive beings''.

Although we hear none of the clarifications about the negative aspects of Archbishop McMahon's interview, or of his general leadership of the CES, from the clergy, it is clear from on-line discussion forums that numbers of laity are deeply concerned by a good deal of the content of the Archbishop's interview.

In any case, the fact that Catholic schools in the realm of the CES are failing in their duty - to use the Archbishop's own words - in the area of chastity, is manifest to any who care to acknowledge the clearly visible facts.

In his interview, Archbishop McMahon asks his interlocutor, ''Have you ever been in a Catholic school?''

Well, in my own case, I can answer that I certainly have. Between 2001-2003 I worked as a regional PR/Education Officer for a nationwide pro-life charity. During that time, I gave over 100 presentations in schools throughout England. Most of these, though by no means all, were based in the north-west region; the split between Catholic and non-Catholic schools that I visited was roughly 60% to 40% respectively.

In all of that time, I only encountered about two ''Catholic'' schools which impressed me as being authentically Catholic in both their intention and their approach. Alas, even these were hobbled by having to use an officially endorsed curriculum which expressed religious indifferentism and moral relativism.

On the particular issue of abortion, I soon realized that the standard curriculum required students to set out the ''pros and cons'' of the pro-abortion and pro-life positions, as if these were merely neutral matters. I was again reminded of this after hearing Archbishop McMahon's mention of a ''debate'' over artificial ''fertility management''.

The underlying relativism of the system was most graphically brought home to me when an R.E. department from a local Catholic school sent me some of the students' artwork to peruse. Whilst some examples set out clearly pro-life themes; others placed both pro-abortion and pro-life positions alongside each other as though both were equal; and still another promoted pro-abortion arguments beneath the word ''abortion''. This latter was written in pink-bubble writing and had a large love-heart in place of the dot on the letter ''i''. It seemed that this student had taken from the ''debate'' the notion that abortion could somehow be a ''loving'' choice. Remember, this was R.E. course-work from a supposedly Catholic high school... 

Then, too, many teachers were themselves either dissenting Catholics, or else were not even Catholics at all.

Although Archbishop McMahon seems to value the presence of such non-Catholic teachers in the schools of the CES, it is a policy at odds with authentic Catholic education principles and traditions. It also has grave practical ramifications.

In one ''Catholic'' school that I visted to give pro-life lessons, the teachers openly laughed at me, and this in front of their students, when I explained to a hall full of teenagers why the contraceptive pill was not morally acceptable. In another session, one of my colleagues met with a similarly-open display, this time of grumpiness, from teachers for merely mentioning Humanae Vitae in a positive light. I even had one ''Catholic'' woman who tried to undermine what I had just taught the kids about the sinfulness of using chemical abortifacients. In one school, I clashed with a head of R.E. in a Catholic school who was bringing in local health workers to promote condoms. In another, a school nurse admitted to me that, though she ''respected the Catholic ethos'', she nevertheless gave out condoms and morning-after-pills to kids in a Catholic school which I was visiting. 

This all highlights another key problem: the fact that school nurses and other agencies are permitted to come in to the ''Catholic'' schools and dish out safe-sex information, condoms and even abortifacient pills without parental knowledge, much less consent!

Due to the complacency of most of the bishops, this has become a pretty well universal problem in this country during the last decade.

Indeed, in recent years some schoolgirls at a school named Sacred Heart were given ''flavoured condoms'' to eat in class; one of our friends told us that his teenaged sibling had been given condoms to handle and look at in his R.E. class; another friend's son told us that his R.E. teacher had told the class that Sunday Mass was no longer obligatory; a priest who left the priesthood and moved in with a divorced woman was given a job teaching in a local ''Catholic'' school; a child in a nearby ''Catholic'' primary school was told by his teacher that there is ''no longer such a thing as sin''; and the head teacher of St. Cecilia's primary school on Merseyside took out a ''homosexual civil-partnership'' with another bloke, and was even allowed to hold his reception in a local parish hall. Worse still, three local Catholic clergy attended the social...

Elsewhere we have described a few times and in great detail, the case of Sacred Heart Primary in Wigan; wherein the headteacher permitted same-sex relationships and a local ''Gay-Pride'' event to be promoted to the young primary-age children in her care, without even consulting the parents. Even though a petition was raised over this issue, Archbishop McMahon has still not taken any public action to correct this matter; and the parish priest/school governor remains silent to this day.

This promotion of homosexual ideology brings us to the latest scandal breaking out from the CES. It is one that Mark Lambert did so well in exposing last week.

Although we rarely read Church Militant these days, we have seen that they have also now provided a very clear expose of this issue under the headline, Leaked Document: UK Bishops Push Gay Agenda in Catholic Schools.

As the Church Militant article points out, this is a document which was commissioned by the Bishops on the CES's management committee - of which, as we have stated above, Archbishop McMahon is the Chairman - and it proposes lesson plans about homosexuality for children as young as nine years of age.

The title of this document is, Made in God's Image: Challenging Homophobic and Biphobic Bullying in Catholic Schools.

As the author of the Countercultural Father blog notes, this appears from the outset to affirm the ''made that way'' argument, which has been so effectively employed by the LGBT lobby.

Indeed, Countercultural Father and Mark Lambert have both done a good job of exposing the fact that the latest document looks to have been lifted straight from the pages of the radically homosexualist Stonewall and similar LGBT pressure groups.

The Church Militant piece notes that, nowhere in the CES document is the Church's clear teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual acts explained.

Instead, it seems that the document makes a partial quote from CCC 2358 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, to speak of the acceptance of people who experience homosexual tendencies; without also stating, as the Catechism does, that the inclination itself is ''intrinsically disordered''. Neither is the Catechism's clear explanation that same-sex acts are ''acts of grave depravity'' anywhere mentioned.

Another aspect of the Church Militant article is the fact that it draws attention to the CES document's promotion of a so-called ''tool-kit'' offered by the secular, pro-LGBT ideology Positive Identities Service. That the slogan of this Orwellian-sounding organization is ''Celebrating Diversity with Pride'' should tell you all you need to know about its values and approach. And yet the CES, headed by Archbishop McMahon, is content to work with this group, by bringing their material right in to teach young kids in Catholic schools.

Church Militant states: ''The training involves ensuring that LGBT youth 'feel safe and supported as individuals and feel positive about their identity' - even if that identity involves same-sex acts gravely contrary to Catholic teaching.''

The American Joseph Sciambra has drawn attention to a lesson-plan suggested in the CES document. This includes an exercise called ''Challenging homophobia''.

He writes: ''Here students are told to read a series of case studies; one of them includes a short story about a woman estranged from her ''gay'' brother. The woman's son watches as she reacts to receiving a card from her brother. The brother, who is in a same-sex relationship, is portrayed as the victim of homophobia - simply: ''Just because he is gay.'' The outcome of the lesson is for students who experience similar situations to challenge such homophobic attitudes.'' It is this lesson plan, which Sciambra describes as ''the most nefarious'' among those listed in the CES document.

Having read through the various critiques offered by the various Catholic laymen mentioned earlier, it is easy to agree with Church Militant's description of the new CES document. That is to say: ''The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are pushing the LGBT agenda in Catholic schools under cover of preventing anti-gay ''bullying''.

Here in England, there seems to be a real reluctance in some quarters to grasp the nettle and face up to the truth on all of these issues.

For example, when I raised the matter of this CES document with a priest a few days ago, he immediately pointed out that Archbishop McMahon is very sympathetic to the Traditional Latin Mass. 

This type of phenomenon has also been described by the Liverpolitanus blog on a number of occasions.

It seems like the equivalent to some kind of heat-deflector sent out to thwart heat-seeking missiles: anyone who rocks the boat too much by questioning Archbishop McMahon's stances on Catholic education or formation is treated either to silence, silencing or to knee-jerk responses regarding his seeming friendliness to the Traditional Latin Mass. As some of you know, these three treatments - silence, silencing and knee-jerk answers - have been my own experience in recent times.

I would say that the fact that Archbishop McMahon appears to be sympathetic to the Traditional Latin Mass, whilst also appearing less keen to promote a thoroughly Catholic approach in the area of education, might add something to the mystery of what is going on; but it should do nothing to lessen the concerns that all faithful Catholics ought to have in this important area.

I will perhaps have more to say on all of this once my concentration is hopefully improved by the return of my dentist and the removal of my dental aggravations in the nearest future.

In the meantime, it looks like the cigars this time around should be awarded forthwith to such laymen writers as Mark Lambert, Dr. Joseph Shaw, Joseph Sciambra, ''Ben Trovato'' and the writers at Church Militant.

With their integral investigations of the CES's document, these laymen have done a faithful service for Catholic parents and their children.

May God bless them for it. 

Novena to Our Lady of Fatima

Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 06 May 2017 - 00:26:04 | by admin

As the 13th May approaches, the time has come to commence the Novena to Our Lady of Fatima.

These are urgent times for the Church and the world: please join us in praying this novena prayer each day from 5th-13th May.

Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Holy Rosary, inspire our hearts with sincere love of this devotion.

By meditating on the mysteries of our Redemption that are recalled in your Rosary, may we gather the fruits contained therein and obtain the conversion of sinners, the conversion of Russia, the Peace of Christ for the world, and this favour I so earnestly seek of you in this novena... (mention request here)...

I ask this of you, for the greater glory of God, for your own honour and for the good of all people.


Now Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be - (Three times each).

Our Lady of Fatima - Pray for us!

A Number of Good Things in Wales

Torch of The Faith News on Friday 05 May 2017 - 22:42:51 | by admin

The traditionally recognized date for the death of St. Asaph is 1st May, 596 AD. He is currently celebrated in the liturgical calendar for Wales on this 5th day of May each year; St. Joseph the Worker obviously taking precedent on 1st May.

When St. Kentigern went off from Wales to found what would become the Scottish Diocese of Glasgow, he appointed St. Asaph to take over from him as the leader of the local Catholic Church, which he had already founded on the banks of the Welsh River Elwy.

Although there is still an ancient parish church of St. Kentigern and St. Asaph situated down near the river-bank, the present St. Asaph's Cathedral was begun on higher ground, further away from the river, in the 13th-Century.

Of course, this fine edifice was lost to Catholic worship at the time of the Reformation. As such, it is presently one of the mother churches of the Anglican Church in Wales.

However, as the above picture shows, there is a beautiful little statuette of the Madonna and Child situated in a small glass-fronted niche set into one of the transcept pillars. According to tradition, this 16th-Century statuette was either washed ashore, or else taken as booty, when the Spanish Armada of Catholic Spain was defeated by the English naval forces in 1588.

In November 2008, we went in and prayed before this little statuette to ask Our Lord and Our Lady for the reconversion of the British Isles back to the One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

I like to think that, although the Spanish navy was defeated at that time, Our Lady arrived back in these isles anyway as a sign of the first fruits for a future restoration to the Catholic Faith!

Speaking of Wales, may we take this opportunity to thank the good Mr. Kevin Jones for kindly mentioning, and linking to, our recent post about our wedding anniversary pilgrimage to St. Winefride's Well, over at his uplifting LMS Wrexham blog-site.

It is well worth visiting this site on a regular basis, as Mr. Jones frequently puts up helpful spiritual reflections and adverts for important local events.

Speaking of these, readers in the region are reminded that tomorrow is the First Saturday Traditional Latin Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Buckley.
Another bit of good news from Wales is the fact that the Latin Mass Society's annual week at Pantasaph Franciscan Friary is scheduled to take place in July.

As Mr. Jones notes at his site, this is why there is not the usual 4th Sunday Traditional Latin Mass, during July, at St. Winefride's Catholic Church in Holywell.
Although there is a programme for those who will have booked in to attend the Latin Mass Society's annual week in the friary, the daily Traditional Latin Masses are offered in the beautiful St. David's church; and are thus open to all people to attend.

We would highly recommend to friends in Wales, and to all people who read this and can easily get to Pantasaph: Don't miss this marvellous opportunity! 

The details for these Traditional Latin Masses are as follows:-

Sunday 23rd July, 2017 - 5:15pm Sung Mass.

Monday 24th July - Friday 28th July, 2017 inclusive - 11:30am - Sung or High Mass.

Saturday 29th July, 2017 - 11:30am - Sung Mass.

And finally, don't forget the annual Latin Mass Society's pilgrimage to Holywell takes place this year on Sunday 2nd July, with Traditional Latin Mass celebrated at 2:30pm in St. Winefride's Catholic Church, Holywell, followed by Rosary procession to the Shrine Well and veneration of the Relic of St. Winefride.

As we said in the title, there are a number of good things in Wales!

St. David, St. Asaph, St. Kentigern, St. Beuno and St. Winefride - Pray for us!

Paradise Lost and Found - Remembering the English Martyrs

Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 04 May 2017 - 19:30:30 | by admin

The 4th May is celebrated by the Catholic dioceses of England and Wales as a local commemoration of the English Martyrs. This date is chosen because it was on this day in 1535 that the first Catholic martyrs were taken to be hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn gallows, for refusing to go along with King Henry VIII's adultery and his illicit claims to be the ''only Supreme Head of the Church of England''.

May God give us the grace never to forget the holiness of their sacrifice.

What the more disoriented of today's ''ecumenists'' prefer to overlook, is the fact that the widescale rejection of Christ and Christianity in the present day is really only the natural outcome of the runaway train of events that was set in motion by the revolution which is popularly spoken of as the Protestant Reformation.

It is sad to note, but their seeming inability or lack of will to engage with this reality can only lead to further religious and cultural disintegration; and more importantly, the possible loss of countless souls.

In earlier articles, we have highlighted this problem in terms of the self-destructive trajectory that was initiated in the 16th Century, when on a sufficiently wide scale, individuals came to see themselves as their own unique interpreters of divine revelation; their own infallible popes, if you will.

Though the motion was undoubtedly complex, with philosophical roots traceable even as far back as the debates surrounding Ockham's Razor in the 14th Century, it is nevertheless possible to discern that the sparks which issued from the Protestant revolt ignited, or at the very least gave fuel to, a series of ongoing historical conflagrations, down to our own time.

Once Catholic Christendom had been ruptured by Luther and those similarly disruptive characters who followed in his wake, the world was shaken by a series of revolutionary convulsions. Among these we could include: the so-called Wars of Religion, the most bleakly positivist aspects of the Enlightenment; the more dehumanizing elements of the Industrial Revolution; the rising surge of Modernism; the dramatically efficient, yet coldly indiscriminate, mass-mechanized slaughter of the two World Wars; the nihilistic descent into irrational Post-modernism; and now the casual slouch into a ''post-truth'' paradigm, wherein pressure-groups and individuals seek to overturn received natures and realities with whatever they choose to ''identify'' themselves as, or else desire themselves to be.

As we've noted previously, the collapse into radical individualism often has the unexpected result of collective tyranny. When rampant selfishness is permitted to demolish family, faith and tradition, the newly isolated set of individuals become increasingly vulnerable to the whims of whoever is able to seize power. This is particularly problematic when divine and natural law are similarly discarded in favour of a ''might makes right'' situation. Like an illusory mirage in a dry desert, the ''new freedoms'' thus turn out to be nothing more than the suffocating prisons of licentiousness.

All of this we have discussed before.

What I wish to do in the remainder of this article, is to briefly explore the collapse into post-modernity from an angle that is different, though not unrelated to that already described.

I refer to the present religio-cultural decay in terms of a widespread rebellion against, what is really, a false conception of Christianity to begin with.

Although Queen Elizabeth I's desired Via Media - that false notion of a supposed ''Middle Way'' - eventually held sway as the religion of the Establishment, and many harshly persecuted Puritans escaped and made their way to the New World, it is also the case that the dark shadow of Calvinism fell and spread its chilling shadow into many corners, as the post-Reformation centuries progressed.

Once Catholic Christendom had been tortured, suppressed and gradually banished from the British mainstream, and in a distinct though connected revolution from large swathes of northern Europe to boot, the Christian joy, which so naturally flowed from Christ's revealed religion, was gradually distorted and disfigured by the Puritanical strictures of the Calvinists and those who imbibed elements of their narrow-minded - we might almost say narrow-hearted - creed.

I would suggest that their grimly depressing conception of the ''Absolute Depravity of Man'' has contributed massive damage in the spheres of religion, culture, social interaction, empire building, international relations, and the well-being of both communities and individuals.

Perhaps we could put this more simply as follows: Many of the citizens of post-modernity view Christianity as that miserific phenomenon which spoiled all their fun for them! In even more simple terms, they are still angry with the Church for the fact that the swings used to get chained up in their local park on the day of the Sabbath rest...

And yet this was never the Catholic way to begin with. These things were really hang-overs from Protestantism. 

In the memorable words of Hilaire Belloc: ''Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, there is sure to be laughter and good red wine; at least I've always found it so, Benedicamus Domino!''

Devoid of truly Catholic joy, many of our contemporaries are searching for this joy in all the wrong places: mainly in sin and an immature and grossly narcissistic selfishness.

It would thus seem that one of the tasks facing the Catholic Church today is to enable the people of our time to again see that what many of them are rebelling against is not actually Catholicism; but rather the restrictive influences of the Puritanical Protestantism, which did so much to disfigure the Gospel of Christ in the centuries immediately prior to the present era.

Post-moderns firmly reject that which they perceive to be a curtailment of their freedom; although post-moderns don't yet know it, authentic Catholicism goes even further than that, by rejecting anything which obstructs the freedom to live in the Truth.

It was this commitment to live in and for the Truth that led the English Catholic Martyrs to die for Christ, for the Holy Mass and for the rights of the Church.

When the Protestant authorities executed these heroes of the Faith, they really hacked off the branch that connected them to real Christianity and all the genuine and life-giving joy which so naturally flowed from that.

Although it is possible to overstate the case, there is plenty of artistic, architectural, musical and documentary evidence to prove that there really had been a ''Merry Olde Catholic England'' before the Protestant revolt. But were the British ever as ''merry'' again after it?

In 1929, G.K Chesterton set out an interesting discussion that touches on these matters in his excellent book, The Thing.
In an essay entitled, If They Had Believed, he explores the tantalizing question of what difference it would have made had the great masters of English Literature been Catholics in a Catholic culture.

It is Chesterton's contention in that essay, that it is difficult to find anything whatsoever in the canon of the classical works of English literature, which could be described as a purely literary inspiration that came from the purely Protestant doctrine.

Whatever is Christian in those works, Chesterton sees as being in harmony with, and thus really a fruit of, the earlier Catholic Tradition.

And so, Chesterton reflects: ''Poor Cowper's Calvinism drove him mad; and only his poetry managed for some time to keep him sane. But there was nothing whatever either in the poetry or the sanity that could have prevented him being a Catholic.''

Later on, Chesterton reflects, that there were ''elements even in Burns and Byron, there were still more in Shelley and Swinburne, which would doubtless have been at issue with the Catholic tradition, if they had had it. But it would not have been a revolt against Catholicism half so much as it was a revolt against Protestantism.''

In a moment of delightfully classical Chestertonian wit, he reflects on the Romantics: ''It is true that Byron or Hugo probably preferred an abbey to be a ruined abbey; but they would not have visited a Baptist chapel even for the pleasure of seeing it ruined. It is true that Scott advised us to see the medieval Melrose abbey by moonlight; with the delicate implication that the medieval religion was moonshine. But he would not in any case have wanted to see Exeter Hall by gaslight; and he would have thought its theology not moonshine but gas.''
When it comes to Milton, Chesterton suggests that his epic Paradise Lost is an immortal poem; but that it had just missed out on becoming an immortal religious poem.

This is because, he points out, having lost the traditional religion of medieval Christendom, Milton's work had to look not to angels and archangels in its depiction of the War in Heaven, but to the fanciful Greek myths regarding giants and gods.

There is another essay of Chesterton's in The Thing which really brings this point home. In his reflection On the Two Allegories, Chesterton explores the different approaches taken by the Catholic Dante and the Protestant Bunyan in their epic portrayals of the journey of the soul to God.

Whilst Chesterton demonstrates a deep sympathy for all that is good in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, his essay makes an observation so profound that it still resonates with me over seven years after I first read it.

Chesterton writes: ''In the matter of chronological order, it is true that the pilgrimage of Dante and that of Bunyan both end in the Celestial City. But it is in a very different sense that the pilgrimage of Bunyan begins in the City of Destruction. The mind of Dante, like that of his master St. Thomas, really begins as well as ends in the City of Creation. It begins as well as ends in the burning focus in which all things began. He sees his series from the right end, though he then begins it at the wrong end... It is typical of the two methods, each of them very real in its way, that Dante could write a whole volume, one third of his gigantic epic, describing the things of Heaven, whereas in the case of Bunyan, as the gates of Heaven open, the book itself closes.''

Having grown up in a Protestant milieu, I can greatly appreciate the differences in world-views which Chesterton outlines in that piece. Although Protestantism has itself largely declined into a kind of post-Protestant secularism, I recall a culture which held to the absolute depravity of man and saw things in creation in a too-negative light. Real Protestantism is much more sincere, and certainly much more Christian, than what passes in many places for Protestantism today. However, it is also much more bleak in its outlook. Of course, the true answer is not a return to Protestant ''tradition'' but to the fertile Catholic Faith of Our Fathers, which was so harshly banished from these isles at the ''Reformation''.  

On our 2nd Wedding Anniversary in 2004, we spent the night in the guest accommodation at the convent of the Tyburn Nuns in London. We were in the City to visit the US Embassy to apply for our US Study Visas for Steubenville.

Before leaving the convent on the second morning, one of the sisters took us on a guided tour of the museum of the English Martyrs.
The museum contains the incredible Tyburn Martyrs Altar, complete with its overarching replica of the Tyburn Gallows.

I always remember the good nun telling us that the reason the English Martyrs have so much to teach us is that they loved Jesus, and the One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith, so much that they were also able to love their enemies. They died like Christ, loving and prayerfully interceding for those who were so cruelly murdering them.

Who can forget St. Thomas More's words when, on the 4th May, 1535, he saw from the Tower of London, those first martyrs being dragged on hurdles to be executed? He proclaimed to his daughter Meg that they were going cheerfully to their deaths like bridegrooms to their marriage!

Who, either, can forget the glorious words of the great Carthusian priest St. John Houghton, who died on this very day in 1535? When his heart was torn from his chest, he asked: ''Good Jesu, what wilt Thou do with my heart?''
Were not these the true English Romantics? Were they not the men who had inhabited the joyous Merry England at the peak of its civilization and religio-cultural identity?

I've said before that I think St. John Houghton must have been interceding for my family.

After all, my parents and I were converted from commited Protestantism and received into the Catholic Church at a parish called English Martyrs. Among the names of the English Martyrs inscribed on the walls of that fine church's interior was that of St. John Houghton. It amazes me, given that our surname is Houghton and my middle name is John. I also have a good nephew called John Houghton.

The English Martyrs bore witness to the Catholic Faith to the point of dying brutal and unjust deaths for it. And yet, they loved their oppressors right to the very end. So much so that some who witnessed their brutal executions were converted and went on to become Catholic heroes themselves. As the nun at Tyburn said to us, this is why these saints can still teach us so much to this day.

Although their deaths undoubtedly marked the end of Merry Olde Catholic England, the English Martyrs also remind us that the loss of the earthly ''paradise'' allowed them their entry into the Eternal Paradise of Heaven.

We've all lost so much with the loss of Catholic Christendom, and the ongoing declines that this rupture has set in motion. On the other hand, the Martyrs also remind us that, as St, Augustine of Hippo taught, we have down here no lasting city.

Wherever we live, may the witness of the English Martyrs encourage us to Keep the Faith and, whilst we must do all we can to restore Catholic civilization, to nevertheless build up our ultimate treasure in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust can take it away (Matthew 6:19-21).

Holy Martyrs of England and Wales - Pray for us!

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