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?


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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?

Feast of St. Josaphat


Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 12 November 2008 - 15:19:14 | by admin

st_josaphat_saint_of_ruthenia.jpgPicture from Wikepedia. (St. Josaphat is depicted wearing the pallium of unity with the Pope of Rome and holds the lily of martyrdom).

St. Josaphat was born in Lithuania in 1580 and became a monk. In time, he was elected as Catholic Archbishop of Polotsk. He clung firmly to unity with the Roman Pontiff against the claims of the Orthodox Church. However, with a truly universal outlook he also opposed those who saw Roman Catholic unity exclusively in Latin terms over and against Byzantine traditions and culture.

Josaphat's humility and devotion to prayer and preaching won many converts to Catholicism. His troubles were multiplied because the Orthodox contested the See of Polotsk and appointed their own archbishop.

Nevertheless, St. Josaphat continued to lead his flock and travelled to prisons and hospitals to hear confessions. In 1623 he visited Witebsk to preach peace and to reconcile religious differences. On this date, 12th November, the house where he was staying was raided by opponents who struck his head with an axe, shot him dead, and cast his body into the river. As a true peacemaker he was hated by extremists on both sides. He is an icon of Christian unity because he remained steadfastly united to the objective anchor of such unity in the Successor of St. Peter, whilst also remaining open and seeking to reconcile fellow Christians  through his Christlike humility.

St. Josaphat was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867.

In the summer of 2004 we were blessed by Divine Providence to be touring the Great Lakes area of North America. We were thus able to spend an awe inspiring afternoon praying and receiving peace in the splendid Basilica dedicated to St. Josaphat in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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You would not know it from this shot of the interior dome (from the Basilica's own website) that this building was constructed using material from the defunct U.S. Post Office and Customs House in Chicago. Fr. Wilhelm Grutza purchased these materials and had them transported on 500 flatbeds to Milwaukee! The basilica was formally dedicated in 1901 to provide a larger church for the growing community of Polish immigrants. Its architecture followed the Polish Cathedral style which was then popular in the region.

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The original high altar remains complete and is flanked by two side chapels of similar beauty. The whole edifice gained minor basilica status from Pope Pius XI in 1929.

interior17.jpgIn keeping with the long established and authentic tradition of Catholic Church building the Basilica of St. Josaphat raises the heart, mind and soul to God in all its aspects and details. Pictures cannot do justice to the sheer, breathtaking and majestic beauty of the interior. As a minor basilica, the church is thus a true place of pilgrimage and if you ever get the chance to visit we heartily recommend it!

In the meantime, why not check out the basilica's website at www.thebasilica.org?

Correction regarding Clare Curtis-Thomas MP


Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 11 November 2008 - 11:57:03 | by admin

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In a recent blog about another dissenting Catholic MP named Clare (in that case Clare Short!), we suggested at the end that Clare Curtis-Thomas MP of Crosby had voted in favour of the HFE Bill at its 3rd reading.

In fact, the crux of the matter was that she did not even attend that vote at all but had written back to our friend Pat MacDonald to suggest that the HFE Bill had elements which she was in favour of. The problems with that, as we have highlighted, are that Clare Curtis-Thomas is a Catholic and vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group. We agree that she should be called upon to resign from this post.

Indeed as Pat herself says 'I wonder why the APPPLG exists, 5/6 members also did not vote.'

Here is the full story from SPUC's John Smeaton -
 
Claire Curtis-Thomas (pictured), the Labour MP for Crosby and a vice-chairman of the
All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (APPPLG), has confirmed her anti-life position in a reply to a SPUC supporter in her constituency. Mrs Pat MacDonald wrote to Mrs Curtis-Thomas to ask her to vote against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) bill at third reading on 22 October, which was the last chance for MPs to vote on the bill. (As expected, no pro-life amendments to the bill had been passed before third reading, the Commons passed the bill at third reading and no pro-life amendments were made the House of Lords following Commons third reading. The bill is expected to receive Royal Assent in the next few weeks.)

Mrs Curtis-Thomas said in her reply to Mrs MacDonald:

"Thank you for your concern. You have, however, missed the point. Voting against the whole of the bill would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are many clauses in the bill which are very necessary and welcome. As co-chair of the all party pro-life group, I am clear on my responsibilities and will continue to vote against those parts of the bill which I find morally objectionable. Regards Claire."

Mrs MacDonald replied: "If you are clear on your responsibilities as co-chair of the all party pro-life group, then it is unacceptable that you were not present, or took part in this vote ... It is time you either resigned from the All Party Pro-Life group, or start taking your responsibilities seriously and act with moral conviction. Your duplicitous behaviour is unacceptable."

Mrs Curtis-Thomas replied: "Thank you for your comments. Kind regards, Claire."

As Mrs MacDonald has commented to SPUC, "As usual [Mrs Curtis-Thomas] cannot reply to what was asked of her."

I personally find it sickening that Mrs Curtis-Thomas has said that voting against the bill would have been "throwing the baby out with the bathwater", when so many innocent unborn children will be abused and killed under the bill. I am unaware of any arguments presented by Mrs Curtis-Thomas as to which clauses in the bill "are very necessary and welcome", nor how those clauses could possibly outweigh "those parts of the bill which [she] find[s] morally objectionable".

The truth of the matter is that:

  • the HFE bill is intrinsically evil - not just as a whole, but also in all its parts;
  • Mrs Curtis-Thomas also made her pro-abortion position clear in May;
  • the APPPLG must remove Mrs Curtis-Thomas immediately from the APPPLG.
It should also be noted that Mrs Curtis-Thomas is a Catholic. Organisations associated with the Catholic Church (or indeed any group, religious or secular, opposed to abortion or embryo-killing) should not invite Mrs Curtis-Thomas to their events. Would such organizations invite a Catholic to their events who was not opposed to the killing of members of ethnic minorities? The unborn child has the same human dignity as everyone else and must be given the same respect.

Well done to Pat MacDonald for
again holding Mrs Curtis-Thomas to account! (John Smeaton).

The Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome


Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 09 November 2008 - 18:59:06 | by admin

hp_lateran_basilica_08.jpgPicture from EWTN's Website.

Today the Universal Church celebrates a Catholic cathedral which is a sign of authentic, Christian unity throughout the whole world and a call to all Christians to return to the source and fount of that unity.

This day marks the anniversary of the event in 324 A.D. when the Lateran Basilica was dedicated as the Cathedral Church of the Pope, (the successor of St. Peter as the Bishop of Rome and Head of the Universal Church under Jesus Christ). It was dedicated as a Domus Dei; a House of God. And this was one year before the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicaea gave to us the creed of the Christian faith, which formulated the teaching on Jesus Christ as being fully God and fully Man, whilst being of 'one being with' and 'equal to' God the Father; the source of all unity, communion and equality.

Matthew 16:18
Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church.

Let us pray that this feast will help restore unity in the fullness of the True Faith amongst Catholics themselves, and that aided by authentic ecumenism rooted in truth, all Christians will be returned and restored to full communion with the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth, in the One, True, Holy, and Apostolic, Catholic Church.  

Feast of All Saints of Wales


Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 09 November 2008 - 18:21:52 | by admin

st_asaph_008.jpgIn the local calendar, yesterday was the Feast of All the Saints of Wales. This being the case, we decided to drive over to the ancient city of St. Asaph in the beautiful Llanelwy countryside. We prayed there for the re-conversion of Great Britain back to Jesus Christ and His One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic Church and also prayed for the dead in the churchyard to gain the indulgence for the souls in purgatory on that last day of the Octave for the Holy Souls.

st_asaph_001.jpgSt. Asaph has a remarkable Catholic history. In 560 A.D. St. Kentigern founded a church nearby on the banks of the River Elwy. When he moved on to Glasgow, he appointed St. Asaph as his successor. The present cathedral was begun in the 13th Century and served as the centre of local Catholic worship until the tragic breach and rupture from the True Faith at the Reformation. In the Victorian era, the famous architect Gilbert Scott was called in to restore and add elements to the edifice. (Our own generation has added its own touch in the form of the outdoor, plastic porta-loos pictured above!).    

st_asaph_004.jpgThe ancient church of St. Kentigern and St. Asaph stands lower down the hill, near the river bank and provides a further example of the Denbighshire double-naved church structure (for another example check out St. Mary's, Rhuddlan which was constructed 700 years ago and appears in an earlier blog post). Indeed, in common with both the cathedral and St. Mary's Rhuddlan, this ancient church was also lost to Catholic worship during the Reformation and it too was given the Gilbert Scott treatment during the Victorian era.

st_asaph_007.jpgBack in the cathedral we were intrigued by this beautiful little ivory statue of the Madonna and Child Jesus behind a glass-fronted wall niche; it is reputed to have been taken as booty off one of the wrecked ships of the Spanish Armada... Perhaps Our Blessed Lady brought the seeds of the True Faith across the seas with her after all, and is just preparing the way for the restoration of Her great dowry!

Another interesting Catholic link is that of the great poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. He studied theology a couple of miles away at Tremeirchion after his conversion and reception into the Catholic Church by Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman, and before his subsequent ordination as a Jesuit priest.

During his time in the St. Asaph area Hopkins wrote some of his inspiring poems; including God's Grandeur and Spring.  

All Saints of Wales - Pray for Us!

Birthday in Llandudno


Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 08 November 2008 - 13:22:00 | by admin

cakes_018.jpgThe champagne was uncorked today for Angeline's birthday!

cakes_031.jpgFirst, we motored over to Llandudno for a celebratory day out, which included a brisk walk along the chilly, promenade in the fading light of the late afternoon.

cakes_030.jpgA major part of our day was spent in visiting the Catholic Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea; which dates to 1893.

cakes_025.jpgThe beauty of the original interior is largely intact and we were blessed to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration.

From the cleanliness, warmth and attention to detail it is obvious that this church is maintained with much love and devotion.

The positioning of the newer altar on the edge of the sanctuary steps would make celebrations of the Holy Sacrifice in the Extraordinary Form difficult. However the majesty of the original, High Altar surely invites some lateral thinking to assist in the liturgical reforms and possibilities opened up by Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of 2007. In any case, the church is blessed with two splendid, side chapels with original high altars still extant; one is dedicated to Our Lady, and one to St. Joseph.  

p4180019a.jpgAs a convert from Anglicanism (in 1993) I was saddened to discover the fate of St. George's in Church Walks when we went over to pray, and gain the indulgence, for the dead in the churchyard there. St. George's was opened in 1840 and was a place we attended on Sundays during childhood holidays.

We learned that the church died away in 2002 and has now become the latest victim of the post-modern secularisation of British society. St. George's is now called Church Walks Data Storage, having been reinvented as a storage depot to keep electronic data with 24 hour camera surveillance! Nevertheless, the graves remain, and so we went in to say our prayers for the dead. We're not sure what the security camera personnel would make of us standing around the graves in the failing light! As we left, I mentioned to Angie how post-Christian it all seemed and how much it reminded me of weird futuristic movies we'd watched years ago; such as Bladerunner! or Freejack!

That sense of a post-Christian (and even post-civilised culture) was continually brought home as we browsed the stores and were reminded just how much impurity, violence and rampant individualism now dominates the economic, marketplace. And then, when we encountered a couple of retired ladies kissing in the street we decided it was high time to return home to leave the moral wasteland and head back to the 'desert' of the Welsh countryside and villages and have a bit of birthday cake and some champagne! 

cakes_039.jpgNow, here is a philosophical question; Why have a small, pink Mr. Kipling's French Fondant Fancy...

cakes_038.jpg...when you can have a BIG pink, Mr. Kipling's French Fondant Fancy?!!!

You Aint Seen Nothin' Yet!


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 06 November 2008 - 12:28:27 | by admin

father-frank_shadow.jpgWhen a man of great integrity like Fr. Frank Pavone speaks out - you need to listen to what he has to say.

Fr. Frank is the National Director of Priests for Life in America, the founder of the Missionaries for the Gospel of Life, Director of Rachel's Vineyard (the largest ministry for healing after abortion in the world), and host of EWTN's series Defending Life. He has saved countless babies from abortion, reconciled broken mothers to God and His Church, held funerals for infants whose remains were rescued from the dumpsters outside abortion mills, and provided leadership in key political battles against abortion and its advocates.

In the wake of Barack Obama's landslide victory, which many Catholics shamefully voted for, Fr. Pavone has typically provided a voice of sense amidst the cacaphony of misled rejoicing.

Fr. Frank, who reminded voters back in September, that it would be immoral to vote for Obama, has now said 'This is one of the biggest mistakes that the American people have made in the entire history of our nation... Senator Obama, when asked at the Saddleback Church forum, when he thought that a child gained human rights, answered that the question was 'above my pay grade.'

Perhaps this should not surprise us unduly, as President Obama has voted twice against the Born Alive Infants Law, which would have protected children who survived abortion.

The new President has promised to sign in the Freedom of Choice Act, which has been calculated as likely to add 125,000 aborted babies to the casualty list of 1.3 million babies murdered in the wombs of American women per annum. This misnamed Act will strike down the abortion-limiting efforts of individual states provided by such safeguards as their requirement for parental involvement, informed consent, prohibition of local government funding for most abortions, and (most disturbingly) the removal of the ban on the barbaric practice of partial birth abortion.

It seems that behind the smug grins and charismatic speeches of the new President that something more sinister is on the way. To quote the much overused political Americanism - 'You aint seen nothin' yet...'
 
On the other hand that concept works both ways and, with true Christian hope, Fr. Pavone acknowledges that, whilst this is a tragic situation, it is also a clarion call for the pro-life movement to mobilize and renew its efforts in prayer and action!

Our Lady of Guadalupe - Patroness of the Americas and of the Unborn - Pray for us!  

Creative Culture of Life


Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 05 November 2008 - 11:09:39 | by admin

250px-carragher.jpgImage of Jamie Carragher from Wikepedia.

A few days ago we blogged about Bootle on Merseyside. A friend from Liverpool has now sent me an amazing little piece taken from Jamie Carragher's life story.

Carragher is the Liverpool FC Vice-Captain and European Cup Winner. He also originally hails from Bootle.

In the opening pages of his book, he has this to say -

'My book of Revelations begins with the most dramatic:
if my mum hadn't been a Roman Catholic,
I might have been aborted.
Paula Carragher was given the option of a termination
due to complications halfway through her pregnancy.
She was told I had spina-bifida- a birth defect that affects
the spinal cord.  She was too religious to consider abortion,
no matter how disabled I'd be.
'Our Lord told me to have the baby', she still claims.
She's the rock on which my family is built.
I owe everything to that decision
she took thirty years ago'.
 
As our friend from Liverpool says -

'Let's continue to give thanks for a creative culture of life and pray for an end to the culture of death.'
 

Short of Truth...


Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 04 November 2008 - 16:32:45 | by admin

clare_short.jpgHat-tip to Jackie Parkes of Catholic Mom of 10 Revisited for calling attention to this issue.

It seems that Clare Short will be giving out the awards at the Catholic, St. Paul's Girl's School on Friday 14th November. The problem with that is that Clare Short is a public, political figure with a pro-abortion voting record and is also a public dissenter from Church teaching on contraception. Clearly this will cause scandal and will send out a confused message to the girls at the school.

Jackie Parkes is standing up to be counted and is now taking flack over this issue... Please pray for continued strength for her, for the school visit to be stopped, and for the conversion of Clare Short from this anti-life position.
 
All too frequently people who make such a courageous stand are left feeling isolated and alone. Please send a helpful comment to Jackie on her blog and please write polite but firm letters to the school calling on them to stop the visit from Clare Short for the reasons stated.

Please send letters to -
Mrs. Angela Whelan (Head teacher)
St. Paul's Girl's School
Vernon Road
Birmingham  
B16 9SL

Sr. Therese Brown SP (The Chair of the Governors)
St. Paul's Convent
94 Selly Park Road 
Birmingham
B29 7LL

And also to
Archbishop Vincent Nichols
c/o Archbishop's House
8 Shadwell Street
Birmingham
B4 6EY

Perhaps the school in question could invite one of the many orthodox speakers who love Christ and the teachings of His Church in order to encourage the students to grow in the Universal Call to Holiness which is so central to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. 

Whilst we're on this topic Hat-Tip to Mrs. Pat MacDonald, a friend of ours from Crosby, for writing to Clare Curtis Thomas MP regarding her being a Catholic, the Chair of the All Party Pro-Life group and yet still voting in favour of the HFE Bill.


Check out John Smeaton's Blog on our links page for more details...


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