Catholic Mom of 10 Comes to Wales!

Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 27 November 2008 - 19:29:13 | by admin

st_winefrides_guest_house.jpgWe've had an amazing day today, because we were able to meet the famous Catholic Mom of 10, Jackie Parkes on her retreat at the Bridgettine convent in Holywell!

Regular readers will recall that we recently suggested Jackie for Catholic Woman of the Year after her courageous, and successful, stand against the proposed visit of the pro-abortion MP, Clare Short to St. Paul's Catholic Girl's School.

jackie_011.jpgHere's Jackie at the entrance to her 'pile in the country'! (Really the peaceful guest house run by the Bridgettine Sisters).

jackie_005.jpgWe enjoyed a lovely lunch together and had a good old natter in the lounge.

jackie_009.jpgThe Bridgettine Sisters positively shine with the love of Jesus. It is great to see religious sisters happily wearing their habits and thus bearing public witness to the presence of Christ in our world today.

jackie_010.jpgJackie is having a well earned rest but she will be back blogging after her retreat ends in a couple of days. In the meantime check out her recent posts on -

Visit from Fr. Harris

Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 26 November 2008 - 21:38:54 | by admin

fr._harris_008.jpgWe were very blessed today with a visit by Fr. John Harris from Holy Spirit parish in Netherton, which is north of Liverpool. Over the years Father has ministered to us with the Sacraments of the Church, his wise counsel, and good sense of humour.  

After a spot of lunch we headed down to the ancient St. Winefride's Well to pray and get a few photographs.

fr._harris_004.jpgThis display, in the shrine museum, portrays St. Beuno restoring St. Winefride's head, (and therefore her life!), after she had been killed defending her purity against Caradoc in 660 A.D. at this site. In the foreground is a representation of St. Beuno's stone; the actual stone is in the outdoor pool at the holy well itself. If you look closely you will notice the scar on St. Winefride's neck; which is also seen on stained glass images of this great Welsh saint. (For the full story check out page 6 of this blog).  

fr._harris_001.jpgAbout a mile down the road from the ancient shrine at Holywell, in the area called Greenfield, stand the remains of Basingwerk Abbey. 

fr._harris_017.jpgThese atmospheric ruins are all that remain of this, once great, abbey; which originally dated from 1131/2. The first monks were Benedictines from Savigny Abbey in France. In 1147 the community came under the control of the Cistercians, and Basingwerk thus became a daughter house of the remarkable Citeaux Abbey in France. The monks continued here and ministered to the pilgrims to St. Winefride's Well for a further, incredible 389 years, until 1536 when the community was plundered in the wake of King Henry VIII's Dissolution Act.

fr._harris_019.jpgFr. Harris inspects the ancient structure; hopefully good enough to still be going strong for another Christian millenium... and the walls too!  

Christ the King

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 24 November 2008 - 17:31:13 | by admin

christ_the_king01.jpgWe found this prayer card of Christ the King a few years ago in America. The Book of Revelation proclaims Jesus Christ as the 'ruler of kings on earth' (Rev 1:5). In his encyclical Quas Primas, which introduced this great feast in 1925, Pope Pius XI stated that; 

Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ. It will call to their minds the thought of the last judgment, wherein Christ, who has been cast out of public life, despised, neglected and ignored, will most severely avenge these insults; for his kingly dignity demands that the State should take account of the commandments of God and of Christian principles, both in making laws and in administering justice, and also in providing for the young a sound moral education (QS para 32).

It is worth pondering these words in our times when the 'rights of God' and His Church, and therefore of the innocent, are being increasingly denied by prideful governments throughout the world.

It is also important to recall the words of our present Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, who reminds the people of our time that Christ's reign is a reign of love, humilty and self sacrifice in the service of others; Christ is a king who empties Himself and comes to save poor sinners; His crown is therefore expressed in thorns and His throne is a cross. 

Pope Benedict teaches;

The feast of Christ the King is therefore not a feast of those who are subjugated, but a feast of those who know that they are in the hands of the one who writes straight on crooked lines. 

Psalm 28: 10-11 confirms our hope;

The Lord will reign forever and will give His people the gift of peace. 

We drove back to Liverpool to attend the Tridentine Mass which priests of the Latin Mass Society offer each Sunday afternoon in St. Anthony's on Scotland Road.
christ_the_king_002.jpgAs you can see the splendid interior of the Church provides a worthy setting. The Mass was deeply prayerful and the LMS Mass books helped us to maintain that full and active participation of the heart which the Second Vatican Council so desired.

Afterwards we visited our good friends the Rushton family in Bootle where we were treated to a sumptuous lamb dinner, followed by delicious banana and toffee deserts!

(Thanks to the person who texted us to let us know that the pro-life story we recently posted about Bootle's home-grown, football hero, Jamie Carragher was also featured in the Catholic Times on page 7 as the main subject of  Fr. Francis Marsden's column for this week).

In My Liverpool Home!

Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 23 November 2008 - 00:39:26 | by admin

our_ladys_birthday_001.jpgThe 'Lantern' at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool.

We've been over the border and up in Liverpool today to visit family and friends.

Liverpool has many world famous streets;

There is Hope Street which links the Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals and houses the renowned Philharmonic Hall and Pub, the Everyman Theatre and the old College of Art where John Lennon once studied.

Scotland Road is the home to the beautiful, St. Anthony's Catholic Church.

Dale Street is first mentioned in documents dating to 1330, and it takes its name from the dale through which a brook flowed into the original Pool of Liverpool!

Penny Lane was immortalised by The Beatles and is today home to the Sergeant Peppers Bistro. After leaving school in 1988, I worked for nearly a decade in various branches of a leading high street bank. A colleague of mine, who was due to retire, used to work at the bank's Penny Lane branch in his youth; he was convinced that he was the 'banker' mentioned in the song!

You remember it -
On the corner is a banker with a motor car
The little children laugh at him behind his back
And the banker never wears a mack in the pouring rain
It's very strange!

There is however one street which the 'City of Culture 08' guide books omit to mention. That is Parkfield Road in Liverpool's L17 district.


With its pleasant Victorian homes, tall trees and 'blue, suburban skies' this could be just another street in just another town. However, it is also the location of the BPAS Abortion mill.

We were there again today to join the faithful and humble little band of pilgrims who have prayed there in all weathers every Saturday morning for many years.

Whilst we were there today, one young lad and girl came outside laughing after the girl had aborted her child. They then got into their car, wound the windows down, lit up some cigarettes, scanned their CD through until finding the song 'Too late to worry now!' and then drove out past the small group of prayers whilst trying to drown out their prayers with this song.

Now that's very strange...

Please pray for these souls and all involved. The Culture of Death is becoming more hardened and more 'in your face' than ever before. We must pray for the conversion and repentance of these and all such souls who do not seem to know what it is that they do.

In spite of the sadness caused by such destruction of lives and souls, it is always very encouraging to meet this little group whose eyes twinkle with hope and good humour in spite of all the odds against them. Their personalities bear witness to the wonder of Grace working in souls and the power of the Sacraments of the Catholic Church and the Holy Rosary.

They cause us to proclaim once more - Be not afraid little flock - for your God is with you!   

Torch of The Faith Catechism Evenings

Torch of The Faith News on Friday 21 November 2008 - 21:53:32 | by admin

ccc_2.jpgIn his Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae, His Holiness Pope John Paul II taught that the object of authentic catechesis is to put people in communion with Jesus Christ.  

Naturally, this first requires evangelism; the initial proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ and His invitation to a life of discipleship and union with Him. Pope John Paul II explained that 'there is no separation or opposition between catechesis and evangelisation' (CT. 18). Nevertheless, they do represent two distinct and complementary 'moments' in the 'movement' towards union with Christ.

ccc.jpgWith so much confusion and dischord in the wider culture and even in the Church, Torch of The Faith has been very happy to be helping to lead a series of catechism evenings in Chester. Two of these evenings have now been held and have each attracted eleven souls, including our hosts Ray and Maryla; who also run the Divine Mercy prayer group mentioned in an earlier blog post.

During these evenings Alan follows the organic and structured presentation of the Faith in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to expound on the truths contained therein. At the end of the talk there is a time for questions, reflections and discussion. Then a video is shown of the powerful preacher Fr. John Corapi hosting a questions/answers period based upon the main themes of the evening. At the end we close with prayer before moving into a time of socialising with the chance to purchase orthodox, Catholic books from the Torch of The Faith bookstall.

So far these evenings have proved a great success and people have been confirmed in their faith against the many challenges posed today.

If anyone would like us to come and do a similar evening/day in their home or parish, please do contact us at

Pope Paul VI's Prophetic Teachings

Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 20 November 2008 - 12:47:27 | by admin

p_vi.jpgPope Paul VI (from Vatican Website)

The American website provides a summary of the prophetic aspects of Pope Paul VI's excellent teachings contained in his encyclical Humane Vitae. In short, His Holiness said that if his beautiful teaching were rejected, the following consequences would ensue;

Conjugal fidelity would fail and there would be a general lowering of morality.

Men would lose respect for their wives and make of them an object.

Mankind would claim limitless dominion over the human body.

Governments would impose contraception on their populations.

With the gift of hindsight, these warnings can now be seen to be truly prophetic. Tragically they have all come true... and then some!

Focusing for now on this last point, we know of course that China has long persecuted its own people with cruel impositions of population control.

However, a post on John Smeaton of SPUC's blog this week really hits home how these prophecies are now coming home to roost in our very own nation.

John Smeaton says;
thumb_man_of_the_match_2.jpgI am not reassured by the Government's statement, reported in the Telegraph and elsewhere, that it won't force teenage girls to have a contraceptive injection - a form of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). Do they really need to tell us that? Clearly, the Government thinks it does need to do so.

The Government's statement could not be more disturbing, not least in the context of the recent Government announcement that it intends to make sex and relationship education compulsory throughout both primary and secondary schools: it reflects a culture of governance in which pressure to contracept and pressure to abort are becoming more and more an instrument of government policy.

We see this culture at work in the imposition on British families of the government's policy of secret access to abortion and abortifacient birth control drugs and devices to schoolchildren - without parental knowledge or consent, championed by Tony Blair and his government and continued under Gordon Brown.

The Government's outrageous statement, reported today, makes it all the more clear that their plans announced last month regarding compulsory sex education in primary and secondary schools, are all about priming children to embrace the abortion/contraceptive culture from 4 - 5 years old - as I pointed out at the time. (John Smeaton)

Clearly we must increase our prayers and penance! 

God is with Us!

Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 18 November 2008 - 12:30:55 | by admin

fr_corapi_009.jpgDuring the last few weeks we have been watching DVD's of Fr. Corapi's excellent presentation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Last night we were particularly struck by some encouraging words that we would like to share with you during these physically, and in many ways spiritually, dark days of November, 2008.

Fr. Corapi was calling upon his hearers, in Sacramento during 1996, to refocus on Jesus Christ.

He said that none of us can get through this valley of darkness unless we cling to the Light of Christ. We must concentrate on that light; even, and especially, if at times we have only a tiny sense of that light. No matter how bad or how dark it gets we must focus on and follow that one true light. To focus on the darkness will draw us into its mileu. 

With power in his voice, Fr. Corapi reminded that if anyone is depressed or alone they are to call upon God;

'Fear not, little flock, for Jesus Christ has made YOU the heir of the kingdom. You need to walk by faith, not by sight. The Blessed Trinity is at work in Creation. No matter what happens He loves us! Enter into the light for GOD IS WITH US! This God loves you and calls you by name to enter into His kingdom.'

Our prayer this day is that all who need comfort, forgiveness and hope, may turn to Jesus Christ and have that peace which the world cannot give.

Spread the Word - the Eternal Word - Jesus Christ!

Stopped Short!

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 17 November 2008 - 20:01:42 | by admin

clare_short.jpgIt is great news that the planned visit of the pro-abortion MP Clare Short to St. Paul's Girl's School in Birmingham was stopped late last week.

Clare Short responded in the Birmingham Mail by saying;

 'This shows how incredibly rude they are and is the same reason so many Catholic girls cease to be Catholics.'  

We cannot improve on the response to that given by James and Ella Preece on their cool blog where they state;

'No Shorty - The height of bad manners is voting in favour of making it legal to have little babies ripped out of their mothers womb and shredded in to tiny pieces. The reason so many Catholic girls cease to be Catholics is simple - we stop teaching them about Catholicism when they are six. They are still singing "who put the colours in the rainbow" when they are fourteen and when they turn sixteen we invite pro-abortion MP's to come and give them awards. Also bad manners, is calling your school "Catholic" and then requiring parents to organise protests before you tell the aforementioned MP to get lost. Once upon a time, a Catholic school was a school that was Catholic, now it seems a Catholic school is one that feels obliged to occasionally humour religious people when they make a fuss (and only if it's a big fuss).'

Whilst many liberals will be complaining that this is all an infringement of 'free speech', it is also worth reflecting that this is a profound act of charity. It has prevented the orthodox girls and parents from the school, and the wider Catholic community, from being further scandalised; and it has given a clear sign to Clare Short that one cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion. In that sense it is an essentially pastoral act in the service of her eternal soul and those of onlookers in need of clear guidance.

Please pray for Clare Short in this serious matter.
Please also pray for all women who have been damaged by abortion that they would know that the way to forgiveness and healing is open to them in Christ and His Church.

Let us humbly give thanks to God for this positive result. Let us also give thanks to all concerned for seeing correctly... after pressure. Let us thank all in the blogosphere for contacting the school to ask that this event be stopped. And let us thank that faithful and unsung heroin, the Catholic Mom of 10, for sticking her neck on the line and standing up to be counted in order to uphold the Catholic ethos of the school and to protect her own and other families girls from this confusion.

me_garden_001.jpgTo quote a much over used Americanism;
!!!Way to go Jackie Parkes!!!

Catholic Woman of the Year award anyone?

The Example of the Saints

Torch of The Faith News on Friday 14 November 2008 - 23:02:24 | by admin

nov_14th_2.jpg The eminent Catholic philosopher Dietrich Von Hildebrand; whose love of Truth led him to oppose the Nazis at great personal cost.

It is fashionable today to think of Christianity as unreasonable. Sadly, many Christians respond to this phenomenon by retreating into the realm of emotion; where feelings become one’s main guide in the life of faith. This can even be seen in some expensive programmes of evangelisation and outreach. 

For sure, emotions are not to be ignored, but because we are created in the Image and Likeness of God, they are to be brought under the control of the higher faculties of the soul; the memory, intellect and will. Yet, even these faculties are limited and need to be continually purified by the life of Grace, and by growing in knowledge of the Faith through prayerful and studious reading of (at least) the Sacred Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

Pictured above is Dietrich Von Hildebrand, one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century; a man who was led into the Catholic Church after his mentor, the brilliant philosopher Max Scheler asked him ‘What is a saint?


Alice Von Hildebrand relates, in the biography of her husband, how Scheler applied the gifts of his genius to sketch for Von Hildebrand the essence of sanctity. Using Saint Francis of Assisi as an example, Scheler demonstrated how his holiness could not be explained in purely ethical terms; his holiness had to come from a higher source; i.e. God and His unmerited, free gift of  Grace (God’s life in the soul).
 I’ve mentioned before that a part of my own conversion included my Providential meeting with a nun from Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity in Liverpool. This nun profoundly understood me as a young man; her vision pierced my soul and her sanctity, authenticity and integrity touched me deeply. Whilst there was obviously an emotional response involved, this encounter with her being engaged all the faculties of my soul on its journey to God and His Church. In meeting that nun I also met Christ.

nov_14th.jpg As Max Scheler demonstrated in the case of St. Francis, a person like Mother Teresa (or indeed that sister from her community) poses a challenge to reason, because she transcends merely rational attempts to define her being and remarkable actions of love for the poor. Reason is engaged and yet discovers its limits because the driving force within these souls was so powerful and mysterious that it effects the lives of millions, and continues to do so even many years after their deaths. 

Perhaps John Paul II said it best, just 2 days after Mother Teresa’s death;

I have a vivid memory of her diminutive figure, bent over by a life spent in the service of the poorest of the poor, but always filled with inexhaustible interior energy: the energy of Christ’s love. Missionary of Charity: this is what Mother Teresa was in name and in fact.

That power is not a mere force. It is personal. It is the very living power of God!

New Links!

Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 12 November 2008 - 17:11:48 | by admin

We've just added two exciting links to our links page.

Firstly, we've provided a link to the Faith, Family, Future website because of the great weekend we recently had at their conference in St. Albans, and the useful resources to be found there for families seeking to raise their families in the Catholic Tradition.

Our second link is very important, and has been recommended to us by a good friend called Ray.

As Catholics our love of beauty, goodness, and truth does not stay within aesthetic appreciation of fine cathedrals, churches and sanctuaries. Rather, it flows out from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and on into our love of others and especially our committment to the poor. And who are the poorest in our own culture if not the preborn when 1 in 4 known conceptions now end in surgical abortion?

For this reason yesterday's adulation of the vehemently pro-abortion, U.S. President-elect, Barack Obama by Bishop Crispin Hollis of Portsmouth Diocese, is misguided, at odds with Catholic sensibilities and particularly distasteful.  

As Catholics we uphold the sanctity of life and dignity of every human person in season and out of season. Cardinal Egan of New York recently promoted the wonderful pictures of pre-born babies to be found at the Life Issues website. We have thus linked to these on our links page for you to see for yourselves and spread the word. Here are a sample -

fig8.jpgA baby's hand at 12 weeks from conception.

fig10.jpgA baby's foot at 12 weeks from conception - particularly 'striking' when considering our recent story on the footballer Jamie Carragher from Liverpool!

fig12.jpgA baby's foot after 14 weeks from conception.

fig17.jpgA baby in the womb at 20 weeks after conception... Our British law allows babies to be murdered in the womb up to 24 weeks from conception - or right up to birth in the case of disability...

These pictures should be made available to every woman entering an abortion facility... Who will lovingly, and with compassion, give them to her if not you and I?

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