Consolations in the Month of Mary

Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 03 May 2017 - 12:18:44 | by admin

It is true that orthodox Catholics everywhere feel pretty well battered in these times. As we are now in the month of May, dedicated as it is to Our Lady, it seems a good time to post up some consoling words by Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman. We hope that you will find some encouragement in them.

Consolations from Mary

What shall bring you forward in the narrow way, if you live in the world, but the thought and patronage of Mary? What shall seal your senses, what shall tranquilize your heart, when sights and sounds of danger are around you, but Mary? What shall give you patience and endurance when you are wearied out with the length of the conflict with evil, with the unceasing necessity of precaution, with the irksomeness of observing them, with the tediousness of their repetition, with the strain upon your mind, with your forlorn and cheerless condition, but a loving communion with Her!

She will comfort you in your fatigues, raise you after your falls, reward you for your successes. She will show you Her Son, Your God and Your All.

When your spirit within you is excited, or relaxed, or depressed, when it loses its balance, when it is restless and wayward, when it is sick of what it has not, when your eye is solicited with evil and your mortal frame trembles under the shadow of the tempter, what will bring you to yourselves, to peace and to health, but the cool breath of the Immaculate, and the fragrance of the Rose of Sharon?

Bl. Cardinal J.H. Newman

Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, and Queen of the May - Pray for all of us, your children.

Ninety and Not Out?

Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 02 May 2017 - 13:20:40 | by admin

Benedict partakes of some Bavarian refreshment, whilst the ever-present Georg Ganswein looks closely on. Prost mein Kapitan! 

Having already asked some rather controversial questions about Archbishop Georg Ganswein's interventions on all things Benedict, I decided to leave the subject well alone during the self-declared Emeritus' recent 90th birthday celebrations in the Vatican gardens.

I was interested to read, however, that Archbishop Ganswein had given a further interview, this time to La Repubblica; during which he had, for the umpteenth time, made the well-worn assertion that Benedict was both ''serene'' and ''peaceful'' in his retirement.

In the days that followed, I was also intrigued to read the critiques of this latest Ganswein intervention that had been so carefully articulated by those meticulous thinkers, Christopher Ferrara and Louie Verrecchio.

Both of these deep thinkers noted the absurdity of Ganswein's claim that Benedict felt himself to be ''far away'' from the controversies surrounding Amoris Laetitia.

Mr. Verrecchio astutely observed that the only people that could feel distant from such havoc would have to be those outside the Church, the invincibly ignorant, or those who were so self-absorbed as to be utterly ambivalent. To these options, Verrecchio added, and made the argument for, Benedict being beyond any of these categories as one who, instead, feels himself afraid to speak out.

Whatever the validity of this argument might ultimately prove to be, it is easy enough to find sympathy with Verrecchio's concluding refusal to buy into Ganswein's claims that Pope Benedict is now typically characterised by a ''touching peace'' in relation to all the turmoil in the Church.

Again, Christopher Ferrara provides an insightful analysis of the whole situation of Benedict's abdication and Ganswein's latest claims of papal serenity in that La Repubblica interview.

Mr. Ferrara concludes: ''I'm not buying it. Something very fishy is going on with these repeated declarations of what Benedict thinks and feels while Benedict himself never speaks directly to the public. I detect the same fishy smell surrounding the whole event of Benedict's abdication. Or rather, the smell of sulfur.''

Given that some folks likely think I have recently descended into the tin-foil-hat-wearing behaviour of the conspiracy theorist with my earlier Ganswein articles, I had originally decided to silently reflect on all of these matters without further comment. Still, it was nice to know that such famous figures as Ferrara and Verrecchio were now making similar sounds in public.

However, a few things occurred which led me to move beyond this ''silently contemplative Vatican Garden'' approach.

The first was Sunday's celebration of what has come to be termed by many as ''Good Shepherd Sunday'' in the Traditional Calendar. Reflecting on that day's Missal readings, which contrasted the Good Shepherd with the Hireling, brought all of these matters and their associated questions back to the forefront once more.

The second influence was related to my reflecting on the matters raised in my critique, which was posted up here yesterday, of L'Osservatore Romano's strange celebration of the Communist intellectual, Antonio Gramsci.

The third thing I did was to more deeply study the videos that had been released by Radio Vaticana, in celebration of Pope Benedict's 90th birthday. At such times, it can be helpful to watch the clips a few times on full-screen, in slow-motion and with the sound turned off. Oh, and to always attend more to what is happening in the background than in the foreground...

Now, when this footage was first released, together with some uplifting video clips in the mainstream media, I was happy to hear Pope Benedict talking about the things of God in such a gentle, yet clear and articulate way, to ordinary-looking folks wearing traditional costumes from his home region in Bavaria.

I happily agreed with the good Frank Walker of Canon 212, when he made his on-line comment that, when we finally did get to hear something from Pope Benedict, he at least sounded like a Catholic Pope. How refreshing that was after four years...

Anyway, I played that film-clip over again in a more studied manner recently. And I have to say that what I observed raised some more questions for me.

Let's consider these now, by way of a short pictographic essay.

In this clip, Archbishop Ganswein demonstrates how slick he is as an administrator/choreographer at public events.
Whilst chatting amicably with Benedict and his guests, the Archbishop slickly and unobstrusively manages to insert his hand to remove the written communication that is being handed to Benedict.

There is nothing immediately unusual in this scene.

Even after 15 years, I seem to recall the ushers at our wedding operating in such a quietly efficient way to receive cards and gifts from our guests; in a way which allowed us to keep our hands free and unencumbered, until we had time to peruse these in a more relaxed manner later on.

The next image seems to dispel any fears that Benedict is under any kind of pressure. There is even a pleasant moment where he seems to mischievously crack a witty joke, to the animated amusement of Ganswein and his guest.
This jolly moment permits Ganswein to exit unnoticed into the background with the envelope in his hand. As I say, there is nothing really unusual there for anyone who has observed wedding couples, politicians, or even supreme pontiffs, receiving guests and their letters or gifts.

Where things get a little more intriguing, and perhaps a little less slick for Archbishop Ganswein, is during the outdoor footage wherein Benedict shares some German beer, receives a line of guests and listens to a little folk music, before imparting his final blessing.

And so, while Benedict's elderly priest brother relaxes nearby, we see close up images of Benedict chatting happily to a nice old chap, who is at the head of a line of blokes all similarly attired in traditional Germanic costumes...
... And then the Bavarian chap offers Benedict a written communication.

Whilst the man explains something about it, Benedict receives it calmly and looks down at it with both attention and interest.
At this point, even as Benedict and the other man chat happily, a determined looking Archbishop Ganswein suddenly appears at the right, from behind the Bavarian chap.
... And in a rather less slick manner than that which was pictured above, he firmly thrusts in his right hand to intercept the written communication.
...Moving in closer for the grab...
If we zoom in here, we can see just how intrusive this manoeuvre really is!

If you or I were giving a card or letter over to an elderly gentleman, perhaps a beloved relative, at a birthday party, what would we think of a relative, family member, or even an MC/usher who acted in this overtly pushy, and even rather controlling, manner?

Seems a trifle odd, doesn't it?
... And the hand opens for the take...a_908.jpg
... I'll take that for you, sir!
I thought it worth taking a moment at that point, to zoom in on Ganswein himself to see whether his expression demonstrated that this was just another bit of smoothly executed administration, to avoid Benedict being cluttered up with paperwork.
I know Ganswein is a busy man, and that he must have had a thousand and one things to attend to that day, but is it just me, or does his face display a look that seems just a little too determined there?

Anyway, whatever we make of that, his brisk intervention brings to a conclusion the brief exchange between Benedict and this Bavarian chap...
We don't actually get to see Ganswein grip the letter, because this gent seems to take the hint and be soon on his way...

In this next image, Ganswein's now customary ''diamond'' hand gesture can be seen at left, whilst his shadow falls on the guest next to the shaded Benedict.
Anyone who watches the full 4:14 of this film on-line will see from this sequence just how much of an in-control choreographer Archbishop Ganswein really is, when it comes to the smooth running of these events surrounding Benedict. His gestures and interactions in the final sequences are particularly instructive.

Anyway, allowing that this could all be the wildest of notions, yet also aware that Ferrara and Verrecchio's considerations cannot be so easily dismissed without burying one's head in the sand, I will conclude with the following picture and some associated questions.
1). As I asked above, what would any of us think, and how would we feel, if we were to observe this kind of brusque intervention at a relative or good friend's party?

2). Mightn't we think it a little heavy-handed?

3). Would we perhaps think the card/letter could have been gathered a little later, in a far less intrusive manner?

4). Wouldn't we wonder why the person was so keen to get their hands on the letter?

5). And, is it just me, or does Archbishop Ganswein seem a little too resolved in that last picture?

I must say that, though his eyes do appear benevolent, he sure looks like one determined puppy to me!

Feast of St. Joseph the Worker

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 01 May 2017 - 21:19:15 | by admin

We've already mentioned that Dom Bernard Marechaux was a French Benedictine abbot and spiritual writer, who lived from 1849-1927. Here is another reflection of his that we have found to be both encouraging and helpful. It seems a perfect antidote to the celebration of Antonio Gramsci that was described and critiqued in our previous post.

Model of Workers

Out of what beneficent goodness did Providence give St. Joseph as a model to workers! St. Joseph was a craftsman. Jesus Himself was, too, and under the eyes of His adopted father, so good was He at His craft that He was usually called the son of the carpenter, the son of the worker (Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3).

What a lesson of humility for human pride! The Son of God came down to earth to be an example to man and at the same time to pour His grace upon him, which grace was contained in His examples. The human actions of Jesus are not (merely) simple gestures that we are to imitate - they are, in addition, resevoirs of inexhaustible, superabundant graces for humanity, and from which one can draw limitlessly.

It was necessary that the actions of the Son of God be imitable by all men; that is why it pleased Him to choose for Himself and for His earthly family a life most humble, that of an artisan. In adopting this life for Himself and His own, He sanctified it for all those who lead such a life and provided living springs of grace which are available to the humblest and littlest of all.

Now Jesus, in His wisdom and gentle Providence, decided to entrust very specially into the hands of St. Joseph, His adopted father, under whose eyes He was apprenticed as a worker, all the graces that He acquired in those thirty years with him. This he did in order to be able to pour them out on the immense multitude of human beings for whom the necessity of earning daily bread consists in leaning over a worker's bench or an artisan's table.

St. Joseph the worker is the model and patron of workers; he it is who dispenses the graces of Jesus the Worker. To these graces St. Joseph adds the precious contribution of his own merits.

When a worker is faithful to God, St. Joseph scatters choice blessings on him and his family. It is not rare for God to draw from these blessings saintly preachers, rescuers of souls, just as He drew Jesus, the Saviour of the world, from the workshop of St. Joseph.

O! would that contemporary society, disillusioned with sophisms and fallacious promises, recognize that nowhere is the worker's humble life so much honoured as it is in the Church! The Church could not underestimate it without doing a disservice to its origin, because it emerged from the house of Nazareth where Joseph, Mary and Jesus lived by the work of their hands.

O, St. Joseph, raise up apostles from those working in the world and lead them back to God under the noble patronage of your example.

Let us recognize here a commendable design of Providence. The work of St. Joseph the Worker was a humble life, and because of this, it was doomed to be forgotten.

Here is precisely how, from this life of humility, God could fashion a patronage that extends itself to billions of human beings and, one may even say, to all humanity that is subject to the law of work.

Far above the half-faded images of founders of empires, law-givers and conquerors, appears the gentle and inspired face of St. Joseph the Worker, brightened by the divine radiance of Jesus. That is how God glorifies the humble!

Dom Bernard Marechaux

We pray that God will give all of us grace on this day, through the intercession of St. Joseph the Worker, to accept our daily duties in a humble spirit of penance, and to complete our work patiently for the greater glory of God.

St. Joseph the Worker - Pray for us!

L'Osservatore Romano Celebrates the Communist Intellectual Antonio Gramsci...

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 01 May 2017 - 11:30:35 | by admin

At some point, those wanting to seriously understand and resist the accelerating crisis, which has so undermined the Catholic Church and Western civilization, will likely come up against the spooky figure of Antonio Gramsci.

For me, the first encounter with this unhappy figure occurred in the summer of 2010, when a faithful Catholic gentleman on Merseyside explained to me something of Gramsci's subversive influence in the realms of both religion and culture.

Ever since that initial encounter, the figure and works of the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci, always leave me feeling chilled to the core.

I thus found it particularly disturbing to discover - during a few weeks researching in a university library in Cheshire late in 2013 - that a whole new generation of bright-eyed, young historians and sociologists was being immersed into the subtleties of Gramscian theory.

As a Communist intellectual, Antonio Gramsci had recognized that Christianity was foundational in the development of key Western civilizational values. Such values included the pillars of the traditional family and the right to private property; as well as the conception of individual rights and duties, which both supported and flowed from these.

In Gramsci's view, the emergence of a thoroughly Communist society could only be achieved through the abolition of all of these factors.

What is perhaps most disturbing in the Gramscian programme, is that it aimed to achieve this abolition, in a much more long-lasting way, through a sophisticated programme of religio-cultural subversion. Gramsci had grasped that Communism's global aims could be most effectively implemented if they were given deep roots and nurtured over a long period of time.

To have such a deep and lasting impact, Gramsci understood that this subversion would need to be applied in the realms of education, language, controlled use of media and a thorough infiltration and re-orientation of religion. 

We could well summarize all of this by speaking of it as a co-ordinated attempt to ''Marxize the inner man''.

Gramsci was aiming at a world-changing revolution that would achieve its lasting aims by being passive and incremental, rather than bloody and rapid.

When applied to the Catholic Church, Gramsci's passive revolution recognized the Church's influence over so many people. It thus sought to harness this influence to further the revolution, by means of infiltration to utilize the existing structures; whilst also gradually reorienting them to echo the revolutionary changes in society with novel interpretations of reason, morality and ethics.  

We're basically speaking of the so-called ''Boiled Frog'' approach, wherein changes occur so gradually, so persistently and so subtly, that few recognize the danger until it is far too late.

That this has largely been achieved can be witnessed in the fact that so many Catholics today, including those at all levels of the hierarchy, priesthood and laity, identify religiously as Catholics, whilst thinking and acting more like cultural Marxists.

I would suggest that the present struggles in the age of Pope Francis, such as that over Amoris Laetitia and the universal episcopal support given to leftist governmental control in matters of the environment and the mass introduction of Islamic peoples into the West, can only be truly comprehended with some background knowledge of Gramsci and his far-reaching aims and influences.

It is certainly remarkable and deeply disturbing to learn that, so close to today's celebration in the Catholic Church of the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker - itself said to have been moved to this date by Pope Pius XII in 1955 to counter atheistic Communism's May Day idolization of the proletariat - the Vatican's own semi-official L'Osservatore Romano has a feature piece celebrating the Communist intellectual Antonio Gramsci...

This travesty has gained exposure thanks to the latest update at Tradition in Action, which draws attention to the 27th April edition of L'Osservatore Romano and its feature of the above-pictured image of Gramsci, which accompanies a large article in L'Osservatore to celebrate him on the 80th anniversary of his death.

As you will recall, this comes just a couple of weeks after L'Osservatore Romano ran a piece suggesting that Pope Francis had aquiesced in the sending of a congratulatory communication from Cardinal Baldiserri to Bishops Scicluna and Gresch for their sacrilegious Amoris Laetitia guidelines.

And as Tradition in Action reflects: ''Tired of praising Luther along with other Protestant heretics, homosexual film directors like Pasolini and revolutionary modern artists like Picasso, now L'Osservatore Romano is paying homage to Communist intellectuals.''

During the last two years, I have several times expressed my belief that, not only has Communism not disappeared, but that it is also alive, well and actively infiltrating both the Catholic Church in particular and Western civilization in general.

Though I have backed up the expression of this belief with historical writings, the warnings of prominent victims of Communism, photographic and documentary details regarding Communistic change-agents in the Church, anecdotal evidence, personal experiences and the very message of Fatima about Russia spreading her errors, I have no doubt gained the ire of not a few observers for expressing such a controversial view.

Perhaps such detractors might now consider reviewing their own position.

After all, it is certainly odd to observe the Vatican's own semi-official newspaper - the very paper which Pope Francis acknowledged, in a motu proprio dated 27th June, 2015, would eventually become incorporated into the new Secretariat for Communications - openly celebrating the Communist intellectual Antonio Gramsci!

Let us not forget, either, that this very Secretariat for Communications has also just welcomed the subversive homosexualist, and friend of Pope Francis, Fr. James Martin S.J., as an official consultant...

Our Lady of Fatima - Pray for us!

Wedding Anniversary Pilgrimage to St. Winefride's Well

Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 29 April 2017 - 19:13:48 | by admin

We celebrated our 15th Wedding Anniversary with a pilgrimage to St. Winefride's Well in North Wales.

We went there specifically to renew our Wedding Vows to Jesus and to each other; to ask for St. Winefride's protection for our marriage in these times; to pray for Mum to receive healing if it were to be good for her immortal soul; for the specific intentions of various people by name; and to ask for God's blessing on all who kindly take the time to read this blog-page.

There is a peaceful little chapel in the grounds of the ancient Holy Well, which features these beautifully coloured stained-glass depictions of St. Winefride and her uncle, St. Beuno.
The tradition of St. Winefride's Well states that, during the 7th-Century, St. Winefride had to defend her purity from the wicked advances of a local nobleman called Caradog. It is said that he beheaded St. Winefride, at this location, and that a miraculous spring burst forth where the saint's head fell.

St. Winefride's uncle, St. Beuno, was an active missionary priest in the area. We've already mentioned his historical church at Clynnog Fawr in earlier articles. St. Beuno miraculously restored St. Winefride's head and brought her back to life. Images of St. Winefride often portray this miraculous healing by showing a scar-line on her neck. If you look closely at the above stained-glass image, you can see that it, too, depicts the marks of the scar on the neck of St. Winefride.
I was intrigued, this time, to notice the golden coloured bell at the feet of St. Beuno in the above image.

In the historical St. Grwst Church at Llanrwst in Wales' beautiful Snowdonia region, which we wrote about last May, there is an ancient bell, which is believed to date to the 5th-Century.

The famous archdeacon Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales), writing in the 12th-Century, had posited that such ancient bells in churches had originated as cattle bells in Ireland. He suggested that these had been adapted later for ecclesiastical use by travelling Celtic missionaries, who were spreading the Faith throughout this part of Wales.

St. Winefride herself went on to live as a nun for a further 22 years. For a time, she even served as the prioress of her community.

Post-moderns often scoff at such miracle stories; not least because St. Winefride's story existed in oral tradition for around 500 years, before appearing in the written historical record.

Clearly, whilst acknowledging the obvious dangers of manipulation and naivete, it remains the case that this suspicious hermeneutical tendency undervalues both the reliability of oral traditions, which were first handed down by committed and honest members of religious communities, and the fact that so many miracles have been claimed and recorded at St. Winefride's Well, down through the many centuries of its existence.

Indeed, as in the French town of Lourdes and the Irish parish of Knock, the on-site museum at Holywell houses dozens of wooden crutches from pilgrims who claimed to have received miraculous healings in the 18th and 19th-Centuries.

Again, the shrine's library contains hundreds of letters and other documents, relating to numerous cures that have been claimed, through St. Winefride's intercession, during the last 150 years alone.

To be honest, we have something of a miracle story of our own in relation to St. Winefride's Well and the little chapel with the stained-glass windows.

In that grace-filled chapel, hanging high on the wall is a wonderful crucifix of Our Lord. It is coated with the soot of countless votive candles that have burned in that small chapel in recent decades. It is moving to look up to behold this image and reflect on all the prayers which have so tangibly settled, in the form of thick candle soot, on the very corpus of Jesus on the Cross.
Although the background details might require a separate article, it is worth mentioning that I first travelled to St. Winefride's Well in the summer of the Year 2000. It was just over one year after I had left Ushaw seminary in a state of deep distress over all the Modernistic shenanigans in the place.

During his summer vacation of 2000, my late friend Fr. Mike Williams, who was at that time still a seminarian, guided me over the border to Wales for a day of prayer at Holywell, and then navigated the route several miles further on to conclude the day in the National Shrine of St. Padre Pio, at the Franciscan Friary in Pantasaph. These constituted my first-ever visits to these two holy places, which would come to play such an important part in my life later on.

Being at that time more attached to the world than Fr. Mike was, I suggested that, when the peaceful day of prayer which we spent in these holy places was over, I could drive us on for another 40 minutes trip along the A55, just in time for us to make it for a fish and chip supper on the waterfront at Llandudno!

I was disappointed when Fr. Mike emphatically said that, having done what we had set out to do with a day of peaceful prayer, we should quit while we were ahead and travel quietly back home to Liverpool in time for the evening.

Within minutes of my getting home after dropping Mike at his parents' house, I received a phone-call from a friend that I had known through Ushaw seminary. He unexpectedly announced that he was over in Liverpool for two days and asked if we could meet up for something to eat.

About an hour later, I was with John and some of his other friends who had travelled over from the north-east of England.

This was exactly six weeks before John was to be married to his fiancee Stephanie.

It would be at that wedding that I would meet Angeline for the first time. The point is that one of the friends that John had with him that night would later become an important link in Angeline and I getting together.

Had I not listened to Mike, and persisted in us going off to Llandudno instead, I would not have been back in Liverpool that evening to meet this mutual friend; who later played such a key role in Angie and I becoming man and wife!

As the years have gone by, I have begun to discern and wonder at the influence of St. Winefride in all of this.
But there is still more to this story!

I had so much enjoyed my visit to St. Winefride's Well with Mike that day, that I booked myself into the convent/guest house next door to St. Winefride's Well for a three-day retreat; to begin a couple of days after my friend's wedding in August.

Although North-American readers will think nothing of the distances involved, this would mean a fair bit of driving: from Liverpool to the north-east for a few days for the wedding and catching up with old friends, back to Liverpool for an overnight stop with Mum and Dad and a change of luggage, and then on again to North Wales for the retreat.

Still, I had no idea that I was going to meet my future wife at that wedding; nor that she would even catch the Bouquet! Neither did I know that I would be head-over-heels in love when I returned to Holywell just over 6 weeks later!
Anyway, I was just that when I returned to pray at Holywell that August!

In fact, I was so convinced that I wanted to marry Angeline, that I stood beneath that prayer-soaked crucifix, just a few feet from this beautiful statue of Our Lady and the Christ Child, and said to Jesus that, if Angeline were the right woman for me, and should eventually become my wife, I would return to the foot of that crucifix to give thanks to God.

Now, distracted worldling that I am, I shamefully forgot that promise during the two years that followed.

However, Angie and I are convinced that it was God's grace which brought us together when He did.

By God's grace, we were eventually married at St. Helen's church in Liverpool, on 27th April, 2002.

We spent the first night of our honeymoon in a Victorian-era hotel near Southport. That meant going to Sunday morning Mass in a local parish before driving at a relaxing pace down to an 18th-Century fishing-cottage which we had booked on the coast of Wales, not far from Portmeirion; the Italianate village famous as the setting for Patrick McGoohan's cult 1960's TV-series, The Prisoner.

At least, that was the plan...

We were rather troubled to see that, even though it was just 15-minutes before the start of the local parish's main Sunday morning Mass, the priest was casually walking around in a brown and cream check-patterned shirt and tan-coloured slacks. Even worse, he merely bowed instead of genuflecting before the Tabernacle... When Mass started, the priest had rearranged everything: there was no Penitential Rite and an abbreviated version of that day's Gospel was read by a deacon as soon as the priest and servers reached the sanctuary. Then the priest sat down and invited all the children to gather round him for that day's reading from ''Scraggy the Cat''!

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't ever remember seeing that book listed in the Canon of Sacred Scripture...

And so the priest read a long and embarrasing section from this text to a group of equally embarrased looking kids, some of whom looked to be about 11-12 years of age, that he instructed to sit on the sanctuary around a chair he had placed there.

At this point, and as the priest began to ''preach'' about what we could all learn from Scraggy, I looked around to see what the reactions of the local parishioners were. Behind me was a holy looking old man, clutching and praying his Rosary near to his face. I really felt for that old gentleman. On the other hand, everyone else looked just as happy as Larry...

All of a sudden, the priest was up with an illicit set of earthenware chalices and plates for the Eucharistic Prayer. When he began to make up his own thing instead of praying the Canon, Angie looked at me and asked if this was at all valid. I said not and, after a pointed glare in his direction, we got up and left.

That was the only time in my whole life until then that things had been so bad that I actually walked out on a ''Mass''.

Then we were faced with the problem of where to go for Sunday's Holy Mass. I calculated that, with some judicious but perfectly legal driving, we could postpone our arrival at the holiday cottage, take a detour, stop off to pray at Holywell in North Wales and then make it over to Pantasaph in time for their evening Mass.

Although I grumbled about that priest for a good deal of the journey, I was amazed when I stood with Angeline under the crucifix at Holywell and suddenly remembered that I had promised Jesus to come there and give thanks if we were ever to get married!!!

I remember thinking that, even though I had forgotten after a couple of years, here I was anyway. It struck me that God really does have everything in hand and can bring good out of evil.

More than that, when we got to Pantasaph, the Franciscan priest's sermon spoke out against those who deny the Word of God to the people!
The Franciscan Friary at Pantasaph in North Wales. Although we could never have known it at the time, we would live near the friary from 2007-2009, in order to be close to the monastic prayer and evangelization team which was working out from there. Indeed, Torch of The Faith was launched there, during a Day of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in the summer of 2008.

It all seemed somehow poetic.

As a little conclusion to this story, it was well past nightfall by the time we finally reached our honeymoon cottage. I remember the headlights picking out masses of tree trunks as I drove rapidly through unknown and shadowy woods, and wondered if we would ever find the place in the dark. It seemed like a scene from the night-time sections through the Kielder Forest during the RAC Rally!

Thankfully we did, however, find our digs before it got too late. Still, when I opened the curtains the next morning, I was a little startled to see a military tank parked across the way!

It turned out that we were near to a military museum on a former RAF base, which had been used to defend the northwest region from intruding air-raids during the Second World War.

A splendid start to marriage! But then again, I am still in awe of how I was so unexpectedly brought to keep my promise, and be there standing beneath that crucifix, on the first day of my marriage to Angeline!

Anyway, the growing realization that St. Winefride must always have had her hand on us, itself later confirmed by the fact that we ended up living in a Welsh village just a few miles away from Holywell between 2007-2009, was one of the key reasons that we decided to renew our Wedding Vows there this week.

Another proof of the miraculous and holy nature of Holywell is the fact that it has remained as a place of continuous and uninterrupted pilgrimage for over 13 centuries! It is the only place to boast such a record in the whole of Great Britain!
Even during the revolutionary era which is popularly described as the ''Reformation'', the authorities could not prevent the steady flow of pilgrims travelling to Holywell.

In the first years of the 16th-Century, St. Winefride's Well was enclosed with a star-shaped well-basin and covered with the 2-storey building shown in these pictures. It is in the Late Perpendicular Gothic style, featuring a chapel above the well, and is the only construction of its kind in the whole world. As the pictures show, there is also an outer pool leading up to the well chapel to facilitate penitential bathing. Understandably, this has to be arranged with the Well's custodians at certain times of the week.  
There is a beautiful Litany to St. Winefride beneath the fine statue of the great virgin-martyr saint. It was here that we renewed our Wedding Vows on Thursday and prayed for all of you and your intentions. May God bless you for reading each day!

One chilly and overcast September morning in 2003, Angie and I actually went through the waters of the well three times in honour of the Blessed Trinity, to pray for purity of heart, and to ask for St. Winefride's intercession with a programme of chastity-education which we were then trying to offer in schools and youth groups around Britain. 
Just off the picture of the star-shaped well basin here, there are stone steps down into a deeply immersed walkway, leading through to another set of steps back out of the pool. We can tell you that, although it was mighty cold, so much that it felt like your heart would stop after the second of three dips, it was well worth it to have had the chance to have done it.
Being now in 2017 well into our middle years, we decided to just say our prayers at the pool's edge and collect some water in our little St. Winefride bottle this time around! Anyway, Mum seemed to enjoy the visit.
The pool's tall roof is punctuated with ceiling bosses and images that may have been provided as votive offerings in the past.

This image of a sick pilgrim being carried to the waters on the back of a helper is particularly interesting. Sadly, the moist air is taking its toll on the features of the two unusual-looking characters.
The stone ones, I mean!

It was nice to be there to say some prayers with and for Mum. We met a couple of folks who were visiting the place for the first time. They took this picture of the three of us and were very kind to Mum. Please say a prayer for those souls to find Christ's peace and love.
Towards the end of our pilgrimage, the Shrine's custodian came out and kindly took a picture of Angie and I for our family album, with which to remember our 15th Anniversary and the many ways in which St. Winefride has helped us in our lives.

We discovered from him that this man-and-wife custodian team are soon to retire from their 16 years of living and working in the Custodian's House on site.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank them for the many beautiful things they have done at the well and museum over the years, and for all the care and love that they have shown too. May God bless them with a happy and holy retirement.  
We had a great anniversary together at St. Winefride's Well. We highly recommend the ancient shrine as a place to visit and pray.

There is a sign on the main road into Holywell, which announces the town as the ''Lourdes of Wales''. We must admit that the Holy Well of St. Winefride, and the little prayer-soaked chapel with the crucifix, are places in which we have received many graces and experienced the same intensity of sanctity and peace as one does in the Domain and Grotto at Lourdes. The beauty is that St. Winefride's Well is such a quiet and peaceful place to spend time. Travellers will likely appreciate the local Catholic parish and the hostel run by the Bridgettine nuns up the road. There is normally a Traditional Latin Mass in the parish on the 4th Sunday of each month (not July). It is always important to check before travelling. 

In a time when chastity, marriage and religious life are so scorned, St. Winefride's Well stands as a great lasting testament to the deep spiritual value of all these things.

Its longevity and popularity, even through the long and difficult era of the Reformation, also bear witness to the power of God's grace to overcome heresy and error, in a way which nevertheless exudes charity and gives much peace.

Even today, in the times of post-modern Britain, St. Winefride and her miraculous well continue to draw a small but steady flow of pilgrims each day of the year. People are still being healed and finding peace with God. There is still much prayer being offered in that silent and grace-filled sanctuary.

Dear readers, wherever you are reading this from, try and get there if you can!
Even if you cannot, and wherever you are based, may we recommend St. Winefride to you as a powerful intercessor and friend in this difficult time of trial for the faithful.

St. Winefride of Wales - Thank you and Please Pray for us!

Some Important Pro-Life Events in England this Weekend

Torch of The Faith News on Friday 28 April 2017 - 17:29:56 | by admin


1). Good Counsel Network's 20th Anniversary

The excellent Good Counsel Network will celebrate its 20th Anniversary this weekend, on Saturday 29th April.

The occasion will be marked with Holy Mass being offered by Fr. Richard Whinder, at 2pm, in St. James' Church, 22 George Street, London, W1U 3QY.

Following Holy Mass, the good Clare McCullough, Good Counsel Network's inspiring director, will give a short talk on the pro-life work. There will then follow a social with refreshments in the Crypt.

N.B. The nearest tube links to this church are at Baker Street and Bond Street Stations.

As you know, Good Counsel Network root the whole of their apostolic endeavours in the authentic teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Holy Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary with True Marian devotion, and sound pastoral counsel, all constitute the sure foundations of their successful apostolate.

As such, the network has by now been blessed to help save hundreds of babies and their mothers from the tragedy of abortion during the last 20 years.

Please pray for the team and their supporters as they celebrate this important milestone.

Perhaps readers could also send them some much needed funds to: The Good Counsel Network, PO Box 46679, London, NW9 8ZT. They're helping so many mothers and babies in difficult situations that they are always glad of funds!

2). SPUC Pro-Life Chains
Sadly, this week marks another anniversary of the passing of the British Abortion Act's coming into force in April 1968. Since that grim event, over 8 million babies have been slaughtered by abortion in Britain. Even though the UK is such a small island in global terms, that number of abortions is sadly being increased by an average of 552 aborted babies every single day.

To provide a silent, yet powerful, witness to the sanctity of life, SPUC holds a series of pro-life roadside chains each year on this last weekend of April.

The many pro-life chains consist of a continuous line of volunteers holding placards, bearing pro-life slogans and helpline numbers, in clear view of passing traffic. 

We always think these chains are a very good idea.

They raise awareness of the great evil of abortion, at the same time as communicating the availability of positive alternative help for people who are presently considering abortion, or who have been involved with abortion in the past.

Whilst there will be many such pro-life chains throughout the country this weekend, there a few that we are directly aware of. Please do pray for the success of all these events, and join them wherever possible.

Readers in the north west of England are especially encouraged to try and support the following:-

Childwall: This year's chain will be held on Saturday 29th April, from 10:00am - 12noon, outside of Christ the King Catholic Church and along toward the Childwall Five Ways.

Great Crosby: The excellent SPUC group for the Crosby area are actually holding their chain at this very hour, from 4pm on Friday 28th April, along Liverpool Road in Great Crosby, near to Ss Peter and Paul's Catholic Church there. Due to Mum's care needs, we are not able to join the group again this year. However, we assure you all of our heartfelt prayers.

Warrington: The FSSP Shrine Church of St. Mary's has a number of great things listed for tomorrow.

The new and developing pro-life group will meet there from 10:15am to 11am on Saturday 29th April. Meanwhile, in the church, Eucharistic Adoration will take place from 10am and will conclude with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 11:45am. The Traditional Latin Mass will then be offered at 12:10pm.

Later on, between 1pm - 3pm, the pro-life chain will be held outside of St. Mary's shrine, along Warrington's Mersey Street, opposite Smith Street.

The FSSP fathers call on all who possibly can to join them for this silent witness to show Warrington a love of life and a love of the Lord of life.

Readers everywhere are asked to, please, pray for these important events, for all the others which are also being held throughout the country this weekend, and for the UK as we pass through another anniversary of the grim British Abortion Act coming into power.

Our Lady of Walsingham - Pray for us!

Remembering the Victorious Wounds of Easter

Torch of The Faith News on Friday 28 April 2017 - 12:14:19 | by admin

As we mark another Friday in the season of Eastertide, it seems appropriate to contemplate afresh the Sacred Wounds of Jesus.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori drew from Zechariah 13:6 to ask, ''What are those wounds in the middle of Thy hands?''

He expressed the answer in the words of the Abbot Rupert, who answered for Jesus: ''They are the memorials of charity, the price of Redemption.''

Still speaking on behalf of the Saviour, St. Alphonsus himself added that those Sacred Wounds of Jesus are tokens of the great love which Christ bears towards us; the payment by which He set us free from both the hands of our enemies and the eternal death deserved by our sins.

St. Alphonsus continued,

Do Thou, then, O faithful soul, love thy God, Who hath had such love for thee; and if thou dost at any time feel doubtful of His love, turn thine eyes (says St. Thomas of Villanova) - turn thine eyes to behold that Cross, those pains, and that bitter death which He has suffered for thee; for such proofs will assuredly make thee know how much thy Redeemer loves thee: ''The Cross testifies, the pains testify, the bitter death which He had endured for thee testifies this.'' And St. Bernard adds that the Cross cries out, every wound of Jesus cries out, that He loves us with a true love: ''The Cross proclaims, the wounds proclaim, that He truly loves.''

Oh my Jesus! How do I behold Thee weighed down with sorrow and sadness! Ah, too much reason hast Thou to think that while Thou dost suffer even to die of anguish upon this wood, there are yet so few souls that have the heart to love Thee!

O my God! How many hearts are there at the present moment, even among those that are consecrated to Thee, who either love Thee not, or love Thee not enough!

O beautiful flame of love, Thou that didst consume the life of a God upon the Cross, consume me too; consume all the disorderly affections which live in my heart, and make me live burning and sighing only for that loving Lord of mine, Who, for love of me, was willing to end His life, consumed by torments, upon a gibbet of ignominy! O my beloved Jesus! I wish ever to love Thee, and Thee alone; my only wish is to love my love, my God, my all.

May such considerations move our hearts on this particular Friday in Eastertide to love Jesus ever more; and to prove that love by concrete acts of conversion, genuine kindness and growth in Christian virtue.

Words of Jesus to the 20th-Century Carmelite Mystic, Sr. Maria of the Crucified Love: Where will you turn to, when in the coming time, the difficulties grow still greater? My Sacred Wounds will be your surest refuge. Nowhere are you better protected.

Our 15th Wedding Anniversary - Deo Gratias!

Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 27 April 2017 - 08:47:40 | by admin

Canticle of Canticles (Song of Solomon) 2:10-11: Behold my beloved speaketh to me: Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one and come. For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. When we were married on 27th April, 2002, Angie had these words inscribed on the front of the Mass booklets that she had designed and made for the guests to our wedding ceremony and Nuptial Mass.  

With Thanksgiving

We give thanks to God for the fact that we were joined together in Holy Matrimony 15 years ago today. It is hard to believe that the time has gone by so fast!

We want to take this opportunity to again testify to the great beauty and graces of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, especially when it is consciously lived in and for Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The true teachings of the Catholic Church on Holy Matrimony were given by Christ; and it is from His Holy Spirit that they continue to receive their life-giving power today. Those clear teachings have been safeguarded and handed down from the Apostles. They may be found expressed with pristine clarity in the Sacred Scriptures and through a whole body of authorative teaching documents, such as: Arcanum DivinaeCasti ConnubiiHumanae VitaeFamiliaris Consortio; The Truth and Meaning of Human SexualityThe Catechism of the Council of TrentThe Catechism of the Catholic Church; and The Code of Canon Law.

These truths cannot be reduced to a mere ideal. In reality, they are the very essence of genuine marriage. They are the foundational bedrock of authentic living for God and one's spouse, the wellbeing of children, the strength of the Church and the health of society.

Christ's Truth Has Rescued Us and Given Us Life

By God's grace, it has been our experience as a married couple, that by rooting our lives in the revealed truths of the Catholic Faith, Our Blessed Lord has enabled us to become increasingly converted to Him; and to thus become ever more receptive to the graces and blessings He gives to help bring growth through the many hopes, joys, disappointments and sufferings of this passing world.

Without Christ and the grace He gives, we had only darkness and sin; with Him we have been given light and life.

As with all of the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is an efficacious sign that makes actual the thing which it signifies. This is why it makes no sense whatsoever for Modernists to attempt to sunder Catholic doctrine from pastoral practice.
Rooted in the sublime teachings of St. Paul in Ephesians 5, the Catechism of the Council of Trent authoratively teaches:-

For as marriage, as a natural union, was instituted from the beginning for the propagation of the human race, so was it subsequently invested with the dignity of a sacrament, for the procreation and education of a people in the religion and worship of the true God and of Christ our Saviour. For when Christ the Lord would give some sign of that very close union which subsists between Him and His Church, and of His boundless love towards us, He made known the dignity of so great a mystery principally by this holy union of man and wife; and the extreme aptitude of the illustration may be understood from this, that of all of human relations no one is more binding among men than the tie of marriage, and by it a man and woman are united in the closest bonds of affection and love. Hence it is that the Sacred Scriptures frequently place before our eyes, under the similitude of marriage, this divine union of Christ and His Church (Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part II, Chapter VIII, Question XV).

In light of these beautiful truths, regarding the very essence - rather than the mere ideal - of Holy Matrimony, it becomes even more clear why things like cohabitation, sexual activity outside of marriage, contraception, IVF, divorce/re-''marriage'' and homosexual activity offend against God and both the Natural and Divine Law; whilst in some sense also obscuring, or even wounding, the efficacious sign which Holy Matrimony gives to the world of God's Love.

The Gift and Challenge of Chastity

All people are called to live chastely and fulfill the requirements of chastity which accord with their given state in life. Due to the fallen nature of mankind, chastity is often both difficult and demanding. This is especially so in a society which has rejected God and scoffs at the very notion of chaste love. Nevertheless, chastity is no less beautiful for all of that.

We must never forget that, whilst chastity requires great effort and self-mastery, it is always primarily a work of God's free and unmerited gift of grace.

Our Lord Jesus Christ requires that His followers be chaste; at the same time, He gives them the means to accomplish that chastity.

It is the part of Catholics to willfully and humbly co-operate with that grace, through prayer, fasting, charitable acts and, above all, worthy, loving and frequent reception of the Sacraments of Holy Church.

St. Philip Neri used to teach that it was impossible to live chastely without Confession and the Holy Eucharist. St. Padre Pio spoke of these Sacraments as the medicine to withstand the contagion which increasingly surrounds us in these times. We need to receive Divine Love first, if we are then to be able to love ourselves, our spouses, our children and others beyond our families with the love of Christ. This is also where active devotion to Our Lady and St. Joseph play a key part.

Who among us can claim to have been truly chaste? Before the purity of Our Blessed Lord, most of us are, in varying degrees, just like the woman in the Gospel who was caught in the very act of adultery. And yet, Jesus has not condemned us. Instead, he has offered us forgiveness and instructed us firmly to sin no more. Further than that, knowing that we are made with clay, He has given us His teachings, sacraments, fellow Catholics, and the many other helps of Holy Church, to enable us to overcome our sins, receive healing and enter into the New Life in Christ.

This is why the heretical notion of ''gradualism'' is so cruel and evil. Like most heresies, it locks us in our own strengths - we had better to say weaknesses - and self-sufficiencies. It falsely suggests that we are OK as we are; as though God demands no more of us and would not provide further helps to us.

This is a travesty! Gradualism is a lie from the Devil and it leads to Hell. Have no part in it. It is a subtle denial of both our fallen nature, wounded as it is with Original Sin, Actual Sins and Concupiscent tendencies, as well as a denial of God's prevenient, accompanying and sacramental graces.

In contrast to the polluted milieu of the post-sexual revolution society in which most of us grew to adulthood, the Catholic Church's teachings and accompanying graces provide access to a perennial springtime of true love.

Like a lifeline, they rescue human personhood, dignity and the sexual faculty from the frozen winter of selfishness and hardness of heart, which presently engulfs society with a degrading swamp of lust, selfishness and sin, and instead sets them aright as warming lights on the mountain-top of self-sacrifical love.

As Christ shows us all from the Altar of the Cross, real love is that which selflessly seeks the good of the other, even to the point of ultimate self-sacrifice for their eternal wellbeing.

All of this comes as Christ's gift to the Church; and through Her to those that love Him. No wonder that the Devil and his minions want to destroy all of this in society, and even in the Church! 

But as those words above remind us, taken as they are from the Canticle of Canticles 2:10-11, the present winter shall pass and the Love of Christ and His plan for human love will ultimately prevail in both Church and society. Because Christ lives, it cannot remain like a perennial winter, without the joy of Christmas, in some fictional Narnia forever. As we know from Christ's Glorious Resurrection: Love wins!

Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus Imperat! 

Choose Life!

As we celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary today, please join us in praying for, and renewing our committment to, the grace of resisting all heresies against love, goodness, beauty and truth.

Let us ask Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Lady and St. Joseph to help us to receive and co-operate with the graces needed to live with a pure heart. May we each love God, neighbour and ourselves with patience and true charity.

May we all begin again today to commit to being converted and living a New Life in Christ!
Please pray for the protection of our marriage and of the witness Christian marriage gives in today's Church and society.

We'll conclude today with a marvellous statement that the great St. John Chrysostom (349-407 AD), recommended for young husbands to say to their young brides.

Although we've gained a bit of weight and a few grey hairs - and in my case have managed to lose a few hairs too! - since these wedding pictures were taken 15 years ago, that great saint's words for newlyweds still seem appropriate for us to make our own again today.

I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us... I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind to you.

May the Most Holy Family Pray For and Protect Our Marriage, the Marriages of All in the Lord and the Church's True Teachings on Chastity and Marriage. Wherever and Whoever We Are, May We All Choose this Day to Make a Renewed Committment to Chastity and to Live Lives of True Love in the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

A Day Without the Mass?

Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 26 April 2017 - 11:50:31 | by admin

Among the many great words uttered by St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina during his earthly life, there are two that have always stood out particularly for me.

The first is the great saint's reminder to, ''always stay close to the Catholic Church, as it alone can give you true peace; because it alone possesses Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, Who is the true Prince of Peace.''

The second is St. Pio's stark warning that ''it would be easier for the world to survive without the sun, than to do without Holy Mass.''

Our Blessed Lord instituted the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and instructed His Church to ''Do this in remembrance of me'' down through all the ages until the end of time. In truth, the Holy Mass is the centre of all that exists in this world. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, the Mass is that ''still point of the turning world''.

As I noted last September, in an article entitled Satan's War on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, St. Alphonsus de Liguori left a clear warning on this important theme.

He wrote: ''The Devil has always attempted, by means of heretics, to deprive the world of the Mass, making them precursors of the Antichrist, who before anything else, will try to abolish, and actually will abolish the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as a punishment for the sins of men, according to the prediction of Daniel, 'And strength was given him against the continual sacrifice' (Daniel 8:12).''

If you've read that earlier article, you will recall that I had spoken there of how orthodox students were persecuted for their love of the Holy Mass at Ushaw seminary in the 1990's; and how a key member of the seminary staff had even been firmly pushing for a ''Mass-free ecumenical day to celebrate the Year 2000''.

I was thinking again of all these things at the weekend, when I heard from Angie's Irish parents, during a birthday phone-call from them across the Irish sea, that there would be no Masses offered in any of the parishes of the Diocese of Limerick, on Tuesday, 25th April, 2017. The reason given for this, was the crisis caused by the shortage of priests.

Sure enough, it has since been reported by LifeSiteNews that parishes in the Limerick Diocese would instead be holding ''lay-led liturgies'' yesterday.

As the Diocese of Limerick itself reported, Bishop Brendan Leahy sent out a ''pastoral letter'' last weekend to state that, on Tuesday of this week, every priest of the diocese would be ''away on important in-service formation''. Bishop Leahy thus requested that ''every parish in the Diocese of Limerick should host a lay-led Liturgy of the Word.''

In the following paragraph, Bishop Leahy added: ''In promoting this initiative of lay-led public prayer, I am conscious that our Diocesan Synod strongly encouraged formation in lay-led liturgies.''

Oh yes, I'll bet that Bishop Leahy is conscious of that!

There is no doubt that the Church in Ireland, as in so many places today, is facing a troubling vocational crisis. The problem is that much of this could have been avoided. Indeed, with a few simple measures, it could still be mitigated.

As I've noted several times here before, there were priests at Ushaw seminary who were involved in preventing orthodox candidates from being selected for training at selection weekends; and subsequently squashing orthodox vocations which made it past this ''gatekeeper'' stage. Those very same priests have since gone on to places of key involvement in diocesan ''formation'' teams; wherein they are now promoting lay-leadership in parishes to deal with the crisis caused by the shortage of priestly vocations!

In other words, like true Hegelians, they are now providing the solution to the problem which they helped to cause and foment in the first place...

Bishop Leahy's diocesan communication continues: ''As we move forward, we need to prepare for a time when, even though priests are not available, each local community will be prepared to arrange for moments of public prayer for various occasions. No parish should find itself deprived or ill-prepared for public lay-led prayers.''
''Handing on'' or ''handing over''? One wonders what is really being communicated by Bishop Brendan Leahy's actions.

At the end of the day, it has to be said that neither Bishop Leahy's words in this missive, nor the initiative involving the planned removal of all priests for in-service training to deliberately prevent Holy Mass being offered, sound anything like the actions of a true Catholic shepherd.

If the intention was to provide a sufficient shock to encourage new priestly vocations then the methodology was still shoddy. On the other hand, if the intention was merely to ''empower the laity'' in taking on roles of ''lay-leadership'' then it is nothing short of despicable. Either way, the whole debacle represents a great spiritual poverty and danger. The sense of that poverty and danger is increased, when one reads that the neighbouring Cork Diocese is also considering the introduction of lay-led ceremonies to cope with the increasing priest shortage there.

Years before I converted to the Faith, God's Providence allowed for me to find myself working in a high-street bank in which the assistant manager was a committed Catholic.

Bob used to show me videos about Our Lady of Fatima on the lunch room video player. It was he who explained to me what a Monstrance was; introducing me to the concept of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and Eucharistic Adoration. When one of my friends was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 19, Bob warned me not to put off my religious instruction and conversion.

I mention Bob today, because he also explained to me something of the centrality and power of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He pointed out that the offering of Holy Mass in a given location draws down graces, applies God's redemptive power and pushes back evil in that place.

Even though I was not a Catholic at that time, I have never forgotten the things Bob said to me all those years ago, as we unloaded the nightsafe and helped to set up the bank branch for business each morning.

Another man who consistently taught about the absolute centrality of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was the late, great Canon Michael Culhane; the strong priest who received my parents and I into the Catholic Church in three stages between 1989 - 1993.
The good Canon Michael frequently used his sermons to remind his flock that there was no higher way to pray on this earth than by taking part in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It was in this light that he also reminded everyone, on a regular basis, of the Sunday obligation to attend Holy Mass.

Canon Michael explained that this was because it was none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God - He Who is one with us in all things but for sin and ignorance - Who was lovingly offering Himself to the Father on our behalf in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Canon Michael also frequently highlighted the truth that the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass were one and the same sacrifice.

Canon lived these central mysteries so much in his own life that, although he was clearly of his time in his keenness to promote lay involvement in the Church and Liturgy, he would have been totally baffled by the present attempts to promote lay-leadership and lay prayer services in lieu of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In light of yesterday's Mass-free day in Limerick, it is certainly interesting to recall that Canon Michael Culhane was actually born and raised in that fine place many decades ago.

Like so many places in Ireland, Limerick was so richly blessed in the Catholic Faith, at that time in the early 20th-Century, that she could spare many of her faithful sons and daughters to go and live and work throughout the mission territories of the world.

I have to say that I am mighty glad, and above all grateful to God, that Canon Culhane made that same sacrifice and lived as a faithful Catholic priest in Liverpool for so many decades. I hope to be eternally grateful!

The Limerick that Canon Michael Culhane came from was so rich in vocations, because it was still so rich in the truths and culture of the Catholic Faith; with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass right at its living heart.

A great sign of that past vitality in Limerick is the traditional devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.

This was a devotion that Canon Culhane had brought with him from Limerick and also promoted on Merseyside through a weekly parish novena; which was always accompanied by Adoration and traditional Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
In 1866, to fulfill the wishes of Bl. Pope Pius IX, two Redemptorist Fathers, Marchi and Bresciani, had first brought the original, sacred and miraculous image, of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour to the church of St. Alphonsus in Rome.

One year later, an authentic copy was taken overseas, to the Redemptorist monastery church in Limerick.

Subsequently, a mission was held there for local Limerick men. By God's grace, and Our Lady's mediatorship, this splendid mission bore incredible fruits in the form of a massive and growing Confraternity for men.

In fact, the fruits of that mission were still being felt many decades later here in England.

This is because, the weekly novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at Canon Culhane's church in Liverpool, was one of the very first Catholic liturgies that my late father attended in the late 1980's. Dad was amazed by the beauty, reverence and truth that he encountered in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and traditional devotions like the Perpetual Succour Novena and St. Alphonsus de Liguori's Stations of the Cross.

Looking back to my own early encounters with these beautiful things, and other traditional devotions at the parish of English Martyrs in Litherland, I can see that it was the wonder of God's Presence and Action in the Sacred Liturgy, and associated devotions, which eventually moved our hearts, minds and wills to convert.

In the midst of the post-modern deconstruction which is so sadly taking place throughout the Church these days, the whole focus is only on men and women and on what they try to do; or at least be seen to do!

And so, there is all this talk of lay-leadership and activity in the church and on the sanctuary.

However, in Catholic worship, it is primarily about God acting through the priest, who stands and acts sacramentally in persona Christi. Of course, we are all caught up into that action, but the centrality of the priest and the offering at his hands cannot be overstated.

In truth, aren't we all really fed up with just focusing on ourselves all the time? Isn't that just boring and ultimately rather depressing? Isn't it much better when we lose ourselves in adoration of God, and in receiving His unfathomable grace and power?

It was Rorate Caeli who, with a certain amount of glee, noted the irony of the fact that the only church scheduled to have Holy Mass in the Limerick Diocese yesterday was that of the ICKSP Traditional Mass shrine church in Limerick City itself.

As LifeSiteNews reported, there were two Traditional Latin Masses being offered there during yesterday. (The Irish Times has since noted that, in the evening, three Novus Ordo parishes also had Masses yesterday).

Still, to quote Rorate Caeli: ''So history truly is being made Tuesday in Limerick. This will be the first time in nearly 50 years, the first time since Paul VI invented and imposed his committee-made new Mass, on the First Sunday of Advent, 1969, that the only Mass a Catholic can attend in an entire Irish diocese will be the Traditional Latin Mass. Deo gratias. Alleluia. Alleluia.''


Perhaps it would be good to conclude by reminding Bishop Leahy, his opportunist lay-leaders and various lay-facilitators, of the words which I first posted here last October, in an article entitled, It is the Mass that Matters.

Those words are taken from the great Irish Archbishop Michael Sheehan (1870-1945). He was Co-adjutor Bishop of Sydney and a brilliantly influential Catholic apologist.
His Grace wrote as follows:-

The Mass, according to St. Francis de Sales, is ''the centre of the Christian religion, the mainspring of devotion, the soul of piety, an ineffable mystery which embraces the untold depths of divine charity.'' It is the very life of the Church, the secret of her holiness and vitality.''

No wonder that the spirits of darkness should have inspired the heretic with hatred for the Mass, for they know that when they strike at the Mass, they strike at the heart of the Church.

No wonder that Pope Urban VIII should say that, if the angels could envy man anything, it would be his power to offer the Holy Sacrifice. 

No wonder that the faithful in all the ages of persecution, from the days of the Catacombs to recent times, were willing to pay with their lives for the privilege of assisting at Mass.

Go back in thought to the penal era in Ireland: at daybreak in some mountain fastness you see a little group of men, women and children, clustered around a rude altar at which a hunted priest is celebrating the Sacred Mysteries. They take no heed of the cruel blasts of winter. So intent are they on the progress of the great Sacrifice that their persecutors come upon them unawares: the ravening wolf descends on the flock of Christ; and their blood commingled with the very Blood of the Lamb is borne by Him to the High Throne of God.

Think of the martyrs of England and Wales: how they risked everything, including their lives, if only they could have a priest, if only they could assist at Mass. 

No need to say that we, their descendants in the Faith, should never fail in loyalty to the Mass; that we should never tarnish their proud name by indifference to the most precious gift of Christ.''

When all is said and done, lay-led services can only ever be, at best, a stop-gap measure until vocations to the priesthood return. 

And, anyway, the present ''lack of vocations'' is caused by the loss of the sense of the true meaning and nature of the Holy Mass and the associated dignity of the Sacred Priesthood, faulty conceptions of the place and role of the laity, and the persecution of orthodox seminarians in the seminary system. To a large degree it is being engineered.

All of this can only be overcome when, like the vocations-rich ICKSP which continued to offer the Traditional Latin Mass in Limerick City yesterday, all Catholics everywhere come back to remembering that it truly is the Mass that matters!

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, All Praise and All Thanksgiving be Every Moment Thine!

Hey, Teacher, Leave Those Kids Alone!

Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 25 April 2017 - 13:01:20 | by admin

During the first week of Lent, we lamented here that Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, in his capacity as Chairman of the Catholic Education Service (CES), had welcomed the British Government's distressing decision to make ''relationships and sex-education'' compulsory in all primary schools for children of four years and upwards.

As each of us knows from our own struggles with temptation, sin and spiritual warfare, it is never a good idea to allow the Devil any opening whatsoever; to permit him even an inch is an open invitation for him to take a mile.

Perhaps none of us should really be surprised to hear that the UK's National Union of Teachers (NUT), unhappy that the specific promotion of ''LGBT issues'' had not been included in plans to update the sex-ed curricula in high schools, has just passed a radical motion encompassing even children of nursery school age.

As the London Telegraph has reported, Annette Pryce of the NUT's executive committee, had reported to the NUT's Annual General Meeting that, what were termed ''LGBT values'', had been left out of rewritings of curricula due to pressure from, what was described as the ''right-wing, religious lobby''.

Gosh, who knew such a thing even existed with any kind of voice in post-modern Britain! Certainly, it would have been easy to overlook any such phenomenon in light of the strange silence of most of the Bishops of England and Wales over the matter...

In any case, according to LifeSiteNews, a motion was endorsed at the NUT's recent AGM in Cardiff to overcome this ''religious resistance'', and teach all children, starting from nursery school age upwards, that ''LGBT persons and relationships'' are normal.

Overseas readers should be aware that nursery school age refers to youngsters between the ages of two and four.

In the words of LifeSiteNews: ''The British Government is already committed to making sex and relationships education compulsory at all levels. Nursery schoolers will learn that same-sex parenting is normal and be instructed to spot and avoid inappropriate touching. Seven-year-olds will learn, on the other hand, that masturbation is appropriate touching.''

Talk about the destruction of childhood innocence.

It remains to be seen how Archbishop McMahon and the CES will negotiate these things, whilst also fulfilling his officially expressed desire to work ''closely with the Government to shape any new guidance to enable Catholic schools to continue to deliver outstanding RSE (relationships and sex education), in accordance with parents' wishes and Church teaching.''

Perhaps a good place to start would be to instead read and implement the Pontifical Council for the Family's 1995 document, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality

By having officially welcomed compulsory relationships and sex-education into Catholic primary schools, Archbishop McMahon and the CES have together opened another major crack in the defences of authentically Christian education in this country.

In a movement which appears almost Hegelian: the Government insisted on the compulsory promotion of sex-education to primary children; Archbishop McMahon and the CES warmly acquiesced; the other bishops remained dutifully silent; and within weeks the key teachers' union objected that changes were not going far enough, and successfully motioned for LGBT ideology to be firmly pushed on primary schoolers, and even toddlers!

Perhaps, none of us should ever be too surprised when the old Devil forces open a gap, which has first been voluntarily opened, in order to establish an even wider bridgehead. It is a warning to us all in the spiritual life.

In the battle for authentically Christian education, another inch of ground was conceded, and a country mile is now being taken from the Church and Catholic family life by the enemy of souls.

As we said back in March, Catholic parents and children deserved better than this from their bishops.

Please pray for parents, children and families in the UK as they struggle, without the help which it is their right to expect from their pastors, to protect and raise their children in the Catholic Faith.

Whilst the big-wigs at the CES continue to draw down their impressive salaries, it is no wonder that so many faithful Catholics are choosing to make big sacrifices in order to homeschool their own kids today.

May the Holy Family - Pray for us!

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