Lourdes 1858 - 2008


Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 13 December 2008 - 12:11:33 | by admin

lourdes_014.jpgSometimes the best treats in life are those which are not planned. Several months ago we asked Our Lady in prayer whether we should go and visit her in Lourdes and receive the Indulgence for the anniversary year; and if so, for her to make it all possible.

In the middle of last week we discovered that two people had just dropped out of a Mancunia pilgrimage to Lourdes for the closing celebrations of the anniversary and the Immaculate Conception feast day!

And so we've had a wonderful, unexpected trip to Lourdes. We had just enough time to fulfill the necessary requirements to gain the indulgence with just hours to spare before the feast day ended!

lourdes_004.jpgAfter a very early start last Sunday, we drove to Liverpool and then flew to Carcassonne, in southern France, before taking a three hour bus ride to Lourdes. That last leg provided some moving and spectacular views of the snow-clad Pyrennees. As St. Augustine said when contemplating the sun, the moon, rivers and mountains;

'Heaven and earth tell me to love Thee, Oh Lord.'

And he said that they spoke further to his heart;

'Augustine, love your God; for He has created us for you, that you might love Him.'

lourdes_016.jpgOn the first night we joined our little Torch of The Faith to the many thousands of lanterns on the Torchlight Procession, in celebration of the vigil of the great feast of the Immaculate Conception.

lourdes_029.jpgWe lit candles and included all the readers of our blog in our prayer intentions. 

lourdes_034.jpgA large crowd from all over the world had gathered in spite of the bitter cold winter night.

lourdes_009.jpgHere Angeline lights 5 candles for some friends who had requested prayers.

lourdes_011.jpgOn the feast day itself we began with Holy Mass in the Grotto before sunrise and then spent many blessed hours in the domain and following the Jubilee Way to gain the indulgence; including visits to the font where St. Bernadette was baptised in the local parish Church, the cachot where she first lived; the Hospice chapel wherein she made her first Holy Communion; and the Grotto via St. Michael's Gate and the Arches of the main Basilicas.

lourdes_019.jpgThis was my fourth trip to Lourdes and Angeline's second. In 1998 I was blessed to work the whole summer in Lourdes as a pilgrim guide which really opened my eyes and heart to the universal nature of God's Holy Church! This week it felt like being home again... Neither of us had been for a l-o-n-g time.

lourdes_037.jpgWe then sat before the Grotto through the late afternoon into the early evening as darkness fell; before heading back to the hotel for a much needed warm and a tasty French meal!

lourdes_038.jpgThe next day we did the high Stations of the Cross up the hillside and again included you - our blog readers in our prayers.

lourdes_039.jpg

lourdes_042.jpgWe were frozen to the bone when we got down and so spent a long time in silent prayer in the beautiful Rosary basilica. Each of the first 15 Rosary Mysteries has an exquisite side chapel dedicated to it; complete with ornate mosaics, majestic altars, splendid tabernalces and marble altar rails. Compare and contrast this remarkable chapel dedicated to the Nativity with the one below... 

lourdes_-_nihilism.jpgThis is one of the latest additions in Lourdes; a side chapel in the Hospice. It must be said that in comparison to the one above its starkness is almost nihilistic...

lourdes_046.jpgThe pilgrimage received its spiritual leadership from a good old friend of ours; Fr. Mattie O'Callaghan.

Fr. Mattie loves Jesus, Our Lady, St. Joseph, the Catholic Faith and people. In short he's our kind of guy! During the week, Fr. Matt celebrated the Holy Mass and led the Rosary. We were surprised to be blessed with a seat next to him on the return flight and had a good chat on the plane home.

Above Angie and Fr. Matt wait for their luggage at the carousel in Liverpool Airport.

Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette - Pray for us!

May they rest in the peace of Christ


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 11 December 2008 - 14:04:16 | by admin

frances.jpgTwo lovely friends have died in recent days.

Above, is Frances Egan a beautiful soul from Bootle on Merseyside. Frances went to Holy Mass every day for many years at St. Robert Bellarmine's in Bootle with her husband Terry (where she also enjoyed singing up in the choir loft on Sundays).
 
We first met Frances about 10 years ago when she gave much loving support to our family during a painful trial through which we were then passing.
 
She loved God and her Catholic Faith very deeply indeed.
 
Her last day on this earth had been a very happy one; during which she had sung in the choir and been on good form at the parish coffee morning. Frances would have celebrated her 81st birthday in February. Please pray for her and for Terry, her children, family and friends.

parish2bfamily.jpgWe were also deeply shocked to learn of the sudden death from a heart attack of Peter Burton at St. Theresa's in Chester.

Peter worked with us during 2007/8 on a Seekers team at Pantasaph; during which time we visited all the houses in St. Clare's parish in Chester to invite people to a day in the church hall to find out more about the Catholic faith.

Peter was a lovely man; gentle, kind, always full of fun, and blessed with a remarkable singing voice. He was a keen librarian and was strongly motivated by a desire to evangelise and bring people to the Lord Jesus Christ. As such he had been a long term member of the Sion Community; before splitting his time in recent years between St. Theresa's in Chester and the Franciscan friary at Pantasaph. 

Peter had only recently written the opening column in the Winter 2008 edition of the Message of Hope magazine from Pantasaph friary. His words, under the title The Challenge at Christmas describe the feelings he experienced many years ago about the secularisation of Christmas, and speak most eloquently of the ways of his heart;

I decided I would dedicate some time to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to intercede for those who did not understand the real meaning of Christmas and to enable me to be more receptive to the Christian message and the mystery of God becoming man. That day before the Blessed Sacrament all those years ago was a turning point for me. It helped me to put my friendship with Jesus Christ into perspective. I knew Him, and believed in Him, and from that time I really wanted to tell others about Him, and about the message He came to bring each one of us...

...I would like to give you a challenge this Christmas... Take some time out, to reflect, to pray and to think about the gift of Christ. Think also about how much time you give to Him in prayer and how much time you actually allow Him to shape and mould you... I promise you, if you give Him this time. You will not be disappointed! The real meaning of Christmas will find a home in you, and you can then share that with your family and friends.

We thank the Lord for the blessing of having known these two lovely friends and commend them to His infinite Divine Mercy and love.

Eternal rest grant unto Frances and Peter O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them and may they rest in peace.
Amen.

Listen... Those Who Have Ears to Hear! (Matt 13:9)


Torch of The Faith News on Friday 05 December 2008 - 19:25:28 | by admin

celeb.gifYesterday we blogged about the Everybody's Welcome initiative. Since then, we've done a bit more research on its own website (which is part of the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales website). It seems the programme has so far received £3 million from donors. 

Some of the website materials are so banal as to seem like a parody of the liberal agenda. So there are pages with themes such as Name Badge Sunday and making parish car parks more welcoming... We kid you not!

Perhaps more grave however is the fact that such an initiative, which could (and should) have been used to bolster the Catholic family against the onslaught of the Culture of Death, has been used to further the very culture of dissent from Church teaching which has weakened the foundations of the Catholic family in the first place.

The feedback documents from the Listening 2004 programme can be downloaded from the website. They read so much like a list of favourite dissenting gripes as to betray the fact that they have been engineered to deliver the conclusions which they do.

Here are a selection of typical quotes with the name of the diocese of the contributor;

(P.57) Southwark - 'We don't appear to have any co-habiting Catholics to talk to us here today about their views. We don't talk to them and address them but tend to judge them and leave them with a feeling of guilt.'

(Our experiences on our 'marriage prep' mentioned yesterday day tend to suggest that the opposite is true!).

(P.57) (diocese unmentioned) - A priest describes as 'unhelpful' the teaching authority of the Church, which 'continues to use expressions in describing practices about human sexuality as ''This is intrinsically evil.''

(You couldn't make this stuff up could you!)

(P.58) Middlesborough - 'The whole of the Church's teaching in the area of sexuality needs re-examining from adultery to bad thoughts.'

(Perhaps the real problem is they have not even been heard of, let alone examined, by most of the previous generation and down!)

(P.58) Brentwood - 'Some of the replies were critical of the Church and her antiquated teachings esp. when it came to contraception and divorce.'

(Notice that this is a comment from the collator of 'evidence'... And it has a loaded value judgement with the word 'antiquated'. GK Chesterton said the great thing about the Catholic Faith is that it prevents one from being bound by the transitory values of one's own day. The Church's teachings are perennial, ever new and beautiful; as a whole new generation of young converts to the Church are finding to their great joy! In scientific research the Heisenburg Principle contends that such research is always effected by the one doing the experminent. To get a true reading then, the one doing the experiment must be aware of their own prejudices in order to transcend these in the search for the truth. That word 'antiquated' would suggest that this collator failed to do this. In short, they were not objective enough...)

(P.56) - Liverpool - A grandfather, formerly active in diocesan family support in the post Vatican II era, sent in his comments.

(This is priceless; they're admitting at the outset that the gentleman in question is an insider of their group!)

He says;
'I think a major (though not the only) problem is the failure of the Church to rethink certain aspects of its attitude towards sexuality. This has alienated so many... The fundamentalist fringe sometimes makes a louder noise than those who still believe but now see little hope for a long time to come of the vibrant pilgrim church we thought was coming to birth in the 60's'.

(Yes, sorry pops... The 60's are OVER! We grew up in the hangover period from the 60's party. Our generation knows what it is to live in the impoverished world created by dissent from God's life saving truth. Note two things here though; orthodoxy is equated with fundamentalism... a classic ploy of dissenters; Grandaddy is despairing because he thinks the liberal era is fading. In light of the fact that so much dissent is being openly tolerated it would be hard to agree with him on this - or most anything else he says here - but at least it shows an awareness that the next generation, when finding the fullness of Faith in increasing numbers prefer Married Life to Marriage Lite!).

Hilare Belloc said that, in the end, all arguments are about theology. That this is true can be illustrated by two telling photographs. The first is this one taken from the Everybody's Welcome website to show one of the 'consultation' periods. Here the folks are gathered in Church chatting together and 'being church' in Sacred Heart Church in Hemsworth...


hemsworth1.jpgThe community is the centre - this could occur in any social club... or fair enough in the parish club afterwards.

The second picture was taken at the moment of the Consecration during a recent Latin Mass at Westminster Cathedral, and comes from Fr. Tim's blog.


lms_wm1.jpgHere Jesus Christ, the true and only dependable source of our human community and peace, becomes present to us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He is the Head of His Church and we are His body in the Church. By becoming united to Him, we can become truly and deeply united to one another. By rejecting sin - not sinners - we may have much deeper community with each other than if we cling to our self-serving agendas.

In a nutshell, the folks quoted above are trying to welcome sinners by removing the sense of sin. A kind of re-emergence of the ancient Pelagian heresy... It is laudable to welcome sinners. Goodness, none of us would be in Church if sinners were not welcome! But, the only one who can welcome sinners fully and remove their sin authentically and definitively is Jesus Christ. That is why He gave us His Church and the Sacraments; that we may repent, confess and then recieve His peace and saving love in Holy Communion. It's His Church. Her teachings are His teachings. They are not antiquated because like Him they are alive and active and can judge the heart like a two edged sword! 

The answer then is to receive from God in humilty. To try and 'produce' a new church with new doctrine is a typical culture bound expression of the present zeitgeist.

Perhaps Paschasius Radbertus (a deacon, teacher and abbot who died in 865 A.D.) sums it up best;

Come then, whoever you may be: at least desire now in this world of time to be rid of baneful vices, and that the reign of virtue may come in you, for God is a God of virtues and not of vices. Desire to be reckoned among the number of Christ's members.

May we all repent and be converted this Holy Advent season and find Christ in the fullness of His Church!

Everybody's Welcome... Except Jesus and orthodox Catholics!


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 04 December 2008 - 18:10:27 | by admin

cbcseal.jpgAn excellent blog-post by Fr. Ray Blake at marymagdalen.blogspot.com regarding the 'Marriage and Family Life Project Office,' brought back some memories to both of us earlier this week.

First, here is Fr. Ray's commentary;

A new document has been released from the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales entitled
What is life like if you or someone in your family is gay or lesbian in their sexual orientation? ...and what can your parish family do to make a difference?
issued by

Marriage and Family Life Project Office
Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales
39 Eccleston Square, London, SW1V 1BX

There are lots of references to various documents, mainly from US Bishops, ones which have come in for serious criticism by different Roman Congregations, and some which the US Bishops themselves have replaced.
As priest in Brighton I spend quite a bit of time trying to help people make sense of their sexual attraction, I really find this document troubling. We used to speak a lot about "meeting people where they are at" which is fine, Christ does that but he calls us break from sin and to live a new Life in him.
As this document is issued by the Bishop Conference, one of course accepts that there is great eagerness to pass on the Catholic faith whole and entire, here there seems to be something missing, no-one is well served by partial truths. This document is aimed at supporting families with "gay or lesbian" members, but we are called to much more than that.

Article 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."

There is a great deal about "acceptance" of gay people in this document but nothing about Christ's radical call to "unite to the sacrifice of the [his] Cross", nor is there any teaching about the sinfulness of genital acts outside of marriage despite the fact that this document comes from the "Marriage and Family Life Project".
Compare and contrast this document this little document with
Cardinal Biffi's radical vision which I linked to yesterday. It seems to lack something important, could it be a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ?

In 2002 we attended a compulsory day of 'marriage preparation' in the Archdiocese of Liverpool a few months prior to our own wedding.

marrage.jpgThankfully, our wedding day was a beautiful, Christ centred experience which we were blessed to receive from God through His Holy Church.

That is more than can be said for our Archdiocesan 'marriage preparation day' which was led by the, then Archdiocesan representative for marriage and the family; Margaret Rogers and her husband. Let us speak clearly; if Satan had devised a day for engaged couples this would have been it!

We began with 'small group discussions' about 'what marriage means to me.' We were corrected by the leaders for sharing our faith, 'as this may not be relevant to everyone here and we must include everyone's experiences.' 

Then we endured nothing less than bullying from the leaders of the day, because we told the truth that cohabitation went against the authentic teaching of the Church. (Out of about 17 couples on the day there were just ourselves and another couple who were not 'living together.' The other couples were very open about this and many did not realise this was a problem). Margaret and her husband claimed that we had 'an old fashioned model of Church which had been replaced by Vatican II'. They claimed that the Church was 'no longer heirarchical' and that teachings now developed through discussions amongst the laity... (Vatican II devotes Chapter 3 of Lumen Gentium to the fact that the Church is Heirarchical).

The Rogers' claimed that the Church had thus changed its teachings on sex outside marriage, contraception and homosexual relationships.

When Angeline intervened to say that no-one all day had mentioned Jesus Christ, Margaret cut her short and said condescendingly 'You may be comfortable with that title my dear, but others in the room may prefer to speak of a transcendental reality.'

I said that the whole day had been an example of moral relativism which was contradicted by Pope John Paul II's teaching in Fides et Ratio. Mr. Rogers suddenly sprang up and wrote 'Challenging' on the white-board...

We wrote to Archbishop Kelly and received a polite reply. Nevertheless Mrs. Rogers remained in her post until 2007 when she retired after helping to set up the 'Listening 2004' project, which forms part of the ongoing, and expensive looking Everybody's Welcome initiative. The summary of Listening 2004 is to be found on the web-site of the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales and provides a clear example of how deep (and how high) dissent from the authentic teachings of Christ and His Church now goes.

After Margaret retired I applied for a job in the Marriage and Family office at Liverpool's LACE centre. After all, by then I had 2 First Class degrees in Theology and had specialisations in Marriage and the Family and Bioethics. I also had several years of pastoral experience working with a variety of groups including prisoners, teenagers from difficult backgrounds, primary school children, elderly people and a cross section of Catholic parishioners. I desired to help implement the authentic teaching of Vatican II and to share the rich insights of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body as a means to help heal our culture and bring people back to Christ.

I was interviewed by a panel which included (amongst others ); a liberal priest in lay clothes (I discovered he was a priest during the day - to which I had made the effort and worn a smart suit and shirt and tie); a woman who gives 'homilies' at Masses and has a long history in the liberal 'pastoral' department, and a priest known for his Buddhist and liberal leanings...

Needless to say I did not get the job. A couple of weeks later a priest friend called me to inform me that the latest project from the Marriage and Family office included the one on 'acceptance' mentioned in Fr. Ray's commentary above. It seems that this has only now become a national issue across the dioceses.

In any case Peter Tatchell of the homosexual activist group Outrage! (with a radical history which included breaking up Church services) has strongly welcomed this initiative, and publicly thanked the 'liberal' bishops of England and Wales for challenging the 'outdated, bigoted' attitude of the Vatican towards homosexuality. 

John Kearney on his blog Catholic Rights says;
'The bishops spend a lot of time trying to pretend that their teaching is identical to that of the Holy Father. How embarassing for them that Peter Tatchell has revealed the vast gulf between Eccleston Square and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.'

As we say in the title of this piece... It now seems that Everybody's Welcome... except Jesus and orthodox Catholics!

Anyway... Don't worry, but do KEEP THE FAITH!

Fiorella Nash Soars Into The Blogosphere!


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 04 December 2008 - 15:51:32 | by admin

facebookpic.jpgSeveral years ago, during the course of our pro-life work, we met a strong pro-life speaker and writer called Fiorella Sultana de Maria.

We recently met her again at the Faith, Family, Future conference in St. Albans. Since our previous meetings, Fiorella had married and thus taken the name Nash, and had two small pre-school children.

Fiorella struck us as someone who would have a worthy blog-site; she is an author of exciting novels, a thoughtful pro-life writer, and a convinced Catholic.
 
Well, as we alluded to below, we were greatly pleased to learn from the blog Mulier Fortis that Fiorella is now blogging!

Check out Fiorella's new blog at -

http://monstrousregimentofwomen.blogspot.com/

And read Mulier Fortis at -

http://mulier-fortis.blogspot.com/

Another Dissenting Speaker...


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 04 December 2008 - 15:03:43 | by admin

777701e4-b311-17b0-54db0950fe187f75.jpgIt seems that hardly a day goes by without yet another public figure, who dissents from the beautiful and salvific teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, being given special recognition and a platform to speak by those who represent the Church and therefore should know better. 

Only last month Clare Short was prevented from speaking at a Catholic Girl's School. This only occured however after many faithful people made balanced appeals to reason and truth.

After a day away from blogging we have now learned from John Smeaton's SPUC Blog that Mrs. Cherie Blair has been invited to speak at a forthcoming conference on 'women and rights' by the Pontifical University of St. Thomas, more commonly known as the Angelicum in Rome. That one of the leading Catholic universities in the world should pick Cherie Blair to speak beggers belief. Like her huband Tony, Mrs. Blair claims to be a Catholic whilst promoting abortion. 

Cherie endorses CEDAW and its claim for 'reproductive rights' for women; a euphemism for abortion on demand. She is also a public dissenter from the life giving Church teaching on contraception. She states this in her own life story; has been publicly photographed, gleefully waving a barrier method of contraception at a camera on a Family Planning Association stand; and hosted an event at 10 Downing Street for the radically anti-life and anti-family International Planned Parenthood Federation. 

Cherie also dissents from the teaching of the Church on the issue of women's ordination.

What can be done?

First -  PRAYER for her and Tony to be converted and for our bishops to truly care for the eternal souls of themselves, their flocks and politicians (who make future-changing decisions for our nations), by teaching them the fullness of the truth with compassion and courage, in season and out of season; no matter what the cost.

Second - Please e-mail the following ASAP!;

The organizing secretariat for the conference at
convegno@pust.urbe.it

The Dean of the Faculty of Social Services at
fass@pust.urbe.it

The secretariat of the university at
segreteria@pust.urbe.it

And please write to :-

His Eminence Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski,
Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education
Palazzo della Congregazioni,
Piazza Pio XII 3
00193 Roma
Italy

It is very important that we make this stand together to bear witness to the truth of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.

Let us reiterate - One CANNOT be Catholic and pro-abortion!

As we said during the Clare Short debacle; why choose dissenting speakers when there are so many orthodox and articulate speakers to choose from? We can think of any number of sincere, interesting and thoughtful women who could give presentations to such a conference on the dignity of women and the rich teachings of the Church.

Why not Alice Von Hildebrand, Joanna Bogle, Dr. Josephine Treloar, Fiorella Nash (who has just started her own blog site), or someone like Mary Healy who has done a brilliant job of presenting Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body to the masses?

We think we should be told!

As the Americans Say - Do the Math'


Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 02 December 2008 - 22:17:24 | by admin

kidz.jpgSex education for little children in primary school does not add up either!

There is an on-line petition to the Bishops of England and Wales asking them to make a stand against this imposition of radically secularist, anti-family ideals. 

The petition is at;
http://sexed.mlewin.fastmail.co.uk/

Stand up for the little ones! 

Father Werenfried on Advent


Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 02 December 2008 - 22:11:06 | by admin

b2830d05934f53aa.jpgThe late, great Fr. Werenfried, who gave us Aid to the Church in Need, once said,

Soon it will be Christmas. The brightness of the crib and the old familiar carols will remind you of the unforgettable story of Mary and Joseph, who travelled in winter through trackless mountains to Bethlehem, where there was no room for them at the inn. So began the story of our salvation. 

These simple, yet powerful, words remind us that this is a season of fasting, penance and prayerful preparation to cultivate in our hearts a longing to receive Jesus Christ. Let us ask the Lord for a fruitful Advent, spent well in His service. 

St. Edmund Campion


Torch of The Faith News on Monday 01 December 2008 - 19:30:00 | by admin

tyburn.jpgDivine Providence intervened in 2004 when we had to go to London to apply for study visas for the U.S.A. It was our second wedding anniversary and we had nowhere to stay until we discovered the Tyburn Convent in Marble Arch. This convent is run by the nuns from the Benedictine Adorers of the Sacred Heart and is dedicated to the English martyr's who died for the Catholic Faith at the infamous Tyburn gallows which used to stand in the area. The above picture shows the convent's Martyr's Altar and its inbuilt replica of the original gallows.

We mention this because on this date, the first day of December in 1581, the great priest Edmund Campion was hanged, drawn and quartered on the original gallows for the Catholic Faith and for his sacred priesthood.

After his capture, St. Edmund Campion had been visited in the Tower of London by Queen Elizabeth I. She offered him wealth and titles if he rejected his Catholic faith. He refused and was ill treated during several months in the Tower. In response to his eventual sentence of death for being a 'traitor', St. Edmund replied;

In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors, all our ancient bishops and kings, all that was once the glory of England; the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter. 

St. Edmund spent his final days in prayer and intercession. 

Some vestments reputed to have been worn by him to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass prior to his capture are kept in a glass case in the reliquary room at Ladyewell near Preston. We recently blogged from there, but could not get the image of the vestments to come out clearly. Thankfully this problem can now be overcome by clicking on our links page to Fr. Richard Aladics' Friends with Christ blog; where an excellent article and picture of the vestments has been posted today. (Fr. Richard is presently serving 'down under' at the marvellous Campion College in Australia).

What a great way to begin Advent by contemplating one of Great Britain's greatest martyr saints. This would be a good season to read Evelyn Waugh's Edmund Campion - Priest and Martyr. It's on our 'To Do' list!

St. Edmund Campion - Pray for us and the re-conversion of Great Britain in the New Evangelization!

Advent Begins


Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 30 November 2008 - 20:11:46 | by admin

advent_001.jpgWe made the annual pilgrimage today through the 'outer darkness' of the loft to dig out the Advent wreath. You would think that we would have learnt by now to keep it in a clearly marked bag to avoid the inevitable dimly lit rummage! 

advent_002.jpgIn any case, it was well worth the hunt to allow us to illumine the candle for the First Sunday of Advent. We picked our wreath up across the Atlantic Ocean in Ohio a few years ago, when we had to stay in Steubenville for Christmas due to financial and study pressures. A kind friend who was returning to her family in Canada loaned us her miniature Christmas tree and lights to allow us to have a thoroughly Dickensian Christmas!

The theme of this holy, penitential season of Advent seems well expressed in the third antiphon for Evening Prayer of the First Sunday of Advent;

Behold I am coming soon to reward every man according to his deeds, says the Lord. 

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