High Flyers!


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 18 September 2008 - 12:31:41 | by admin

flying_saints_003.jpgHonestly - the lengths we go to for this Blog! Today is the Feast of another  great Franciscan monk and saint; Joseph of Cupertino (1603 - 1663). This gentle and kind soul was nicknamed the 'Flying Saint' after entering an ecstatic state, and soaring above the crowd during the procession on the Feast of St. Francis during his 27th year! From then on he would be raised from the ground during Holy Mass; on hearing the holy names of Jesus or Mary; or when singing hyms on the feast of St. Francis. He had a similar experience when bending down in humilty to kiss the feet of Pope Urban VIII. Only the order of his superiors could bring him out of the ecstasy and back to earth!
St. Joseph was not by any means a natural scholar, but was infused with supernatural knowledge whenever called upon to answer intricate questions. For these reasons students and aeroplane passengers frequently implore his intercession. (Indeed, he is named as patron saint of air travellers). Being blessed with the odour of sanctity, he experienced the offensive stench of souls who were not living in the State of Grace and would encourage them to repent and make a good confession.

flying_saints.jpgOur other 'high flyer' for today is Piers Shepherd whom we have learned is back in England safe and well after completing and graduating from his 3 years of study at Franciscan University of Steubenville. A fellow Brit, one of Piers' years of study overlapped with one of ours; meaning that we could keep up the British side together in the Sacraments class!

Piers has, as we say over in Liverpool, a lot of bottle (read courage). A classic story is his hosting of a pro-life stand at the freshers week at his English university some years ago. He was ejected from the building by the powers that be. Undeterred he pitched his stall outside the main entrance and continued there quite amicably. That is until some 'open minded' sort tried to ignite his display. Ah, the wonders of free speech...

Piers would be an asset to any potential employers; he has a BA in Film and Media, the MA in Theology and Christian Ministry and is a truly committed Catholic.

Welcome back Piers old chap; Blighty sure needs you!  

The Feast of the Stigmata of St Francis


Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 17 September 2008 - 10:42:33 | by admin

san_francisco.jpgIn the wider Church, today is the feast of that great Italian, cardinal and theologian, St. Robert Bellarmine. My mum and dad's parish in Bootle is named for him and today is a special feast for them (which is celebrated by the singing of a hymn specially written by one of the parishioners).

With our parish being the Franciscan friary at Pantasaph we are keeping the alternative feast of the Stigmata of  St. Francis. The above stained glass window is found in the friary church of St. David of Wales.

The first time I encountered the stigmata of St. Francis was in a Catholic bookshop that I had wandered into when I was a teenager. I was not a Catholic back then (indeed I was very anti-Catholic), but I was squeemish.I angrily fled the shop thinking Catholics were sick and wierd!

All of which shows the effects of Grace on a poor sinner! Today I love the Church and I think that little St. Francis must be one of the greatest saints in history. He has also profoundly effected the direction of my life at key moments. I now understand the stigmata as a rare gift given to chosen souls to be so intimate with Jesus that they become so like Him as to share even the sufferings which He bore out of love to redeem us from sin. 

This weekend I am giving the talk at Pantasaph at the St. Pio Day of Prayer on Sunday at 2pm. St. Pio is a faithful son of St. Francis who also bore these miraculous wounds of Christ to suffer souls into the Kingdom with the Lord. A few coaches are coming along and we will have the Rosary in the morning, followed by Mass, Lunch, the talk and then a Eucharistic Holy Hour in the Church. You are warmly invited to come along. 

Ethel Dickinson R.I.P.


Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 17 September 2008 - 10:27:19 | by admin

ethel.jpgOf your charity please pray for the repose of the soul of Ethel who died recently aged 83. To her friends she was known as 'Eth' or even occasionally as 'Ma Dicko' in true Liverpool humour. Ethel was a neighbour of my mum and dad for several decades and was as much a part of their street scene as the road name signs!

Ethel was a long term member of English Martyr's parish in Litherland, where she was popular in the Union of Catholic Mothers. She helped the Union there to raise large sums of money to send to Sr. Mary Paule of the Bethany Home Charity for babies suffering from AIDS in Africa.

Eternal rest grant unto her dear Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon her
and may she rest in peace
Amen. 

Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Seaforth


Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 16 September 2008 - 15:23:07 | by admin

altar.jpgI've been asked to advertise the three Heritage Open Days at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Seaforth;

Wed 17th Sept - 11.00 - 13.00
Thus 18th Sept - 11.00 - 13.00
Sat 20th Sept   - 10.00 - 12.00

The address is 1 Crescent Road, Seaforth, L21 4LJ

With the church being opened to the public I am not sure whether the Blessed Sacrament will be reserved or not. However, it is well worth popping over to say a prayer there for the conversion of Britain and to have one's mind, heart and soul lifted heavenward by the architecture which resonates with goodness, beauty and truth.

When we first got married we joined this parish for the 2 years before going to America; during which time I snapped this picture one Christmas Day! Fr. Tom Wood has done a lot of work to restore and maintain this beautiful church in its original integrity. It is another gem, whose original altar, altar rails and all round splendour would make it ideal for the celebration of the Classical Roman Rite now that Pope Benedict has encouraged its widepsread use after the 2007 Motu Proprio.

Harvest Home


Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 16 September 2008 - 14:44:50 | by admin

harvest.jpgIn his books The Stripping of the Altars and Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village, Eamon Duffy uses ancient parish records to demonstrate that the English Reformation was not representative of the popular mindset, but rather a radical rupture from the religious and social consciousness of ordinary folk.

Duffy contends that the Reformation's breach with the societal and individual awareness of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Mass as the heart of the world, inevitably led to the tragic loss of the sense of God's Presence in the wider realms of selfhood, community, social order, nature and the seasons. 

Churches had their altars torn out and their interiors denuded of beauty; sodalities which had bound together disparate interests into the service of the communal liturgy were disbanded; cults of saints were discouraged; and the liturgical calendar waned. 

Parish communities that had formerly 'eaten into' the body corporate fractured out into social groups who gave intellectual assent to various beliefs. In worship the intellect was thus sundered from the body. Communion with the successor of St. Peter having been lost, such fractures continued, and indeed continue to this day.

The radical separations of mind and body, religious and secular, community and individual, culture and nature were exacerbated by aspects of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, the various ongoing political revolutions and the so-called sexual revolution. The sacred reality of existence; communion with God and between persons; plus the final destiny of man had all been lost. Or had they? 

recusants_001.jpgI am therefore pleased to be able to advertise the Harvest Festival at St. Mary's in Little Crosby (see earlier post) this Sunday; 21st September. As a community which held onto and passed on the 'Torch of The Faith' throughout all of these upheavals, St. Mary's parish is quite unique and historically remarkable. The community there, in union with their faithful priest Fr. Dunstan and dedicated school head teacher Mr. Peter Hennessy, keep alive that same lived faith which touches all aspects of their lives, and both toils with and receives from nature, the good gifts of God's bounty.

A good lady from there called Pat informs me that Sunday's Holy Mass is at 11.15 am and the church will be decorated with farm produce as an act of thanksgiving. Also, the church will be kept open on Monday and Tuesday so that 'others can come and, in admiring the produce, give thanks to God for His provision'. Something well worth doing if ever there was!    

Picture Perfect!


Torch of The Faith News on Monday 15 September 2008 - 22:30:34 | by admin

cao_002.jpgOur good friend Cao from Church has been helping us tonight to get some high quality photographs of Angie's cards.

We are hoping to 'roll out' an online shop soon on this web-site with a pay-pal facility for you to order our handmade Christian cards. As with the coming roadtrip book - watch this space!

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows


Torch of The Faith News on Monday 15 September 2008 - 17:38:59 | by admin

our_lady_of_sorrows.jpgLuke 2:34-35
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, '' Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.''

What is this sword? It is the close unity in suffering between Jesus and His Blessed Mother. Pope Pius XII said it well in his 1956 encyclical Haurietis Aquas;
 
'In bringing about the work of human redemption, the  Most Blessed Virgin Mary was, by the will of God, so indissolubly associated with Christ that our salvation proceeded from the love and sufferings of Jesus Christ intimately joined with the love and sorrows of His mother.'

St. Bridget passed on the devotion known as the Seven Dolors (sorrows) of Our Lady. These are
1. The prophecy of Simeon.
2. The flight into Egypt
.
3. The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple.
4. The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.
5. The Crucifixion.
6. The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross.
7. The burial of Jesus.

St. Bridget said that Our Lady would grant 7 graces to souls who daily honour her by saying 7 Hail Mary's whilst meditating on these dolors;

1. I will grant peace to their families.
2. They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.
3. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.
4. I will give them as much as they ask for as long as
it does not oppose the adorable will of my Divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.
5. I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
6. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their Mother.
7. I have obtained (This Grace) from my Divine Son, that those who propogate this devotion to my tears and dolors, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.

Who would not want to console Our Blessed Mother in this way, knowing that she suffered so much for love of Jesus... and for us - for you and for me?

The Biggest Cross in the Western Hemisphere!


Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 14 September 2008 - 23:07:36 | by admin

texas.jpgReflecting on the Triumph of The Cross today called to mind a stop we made to Groom in Texas during our TransAmerican roadtrip pilgrimage in 2005.

This was 'Roadside America' at its very best; the 190ft tall, 110ft wide, 2.5 million lb cross belonging to Cross Ministries, stands right next to Interstate I-40 and attracts around 1,000 visitors every day!

Around the foot of the cross there is a lifesize set of the Stations of The Cross and Calvary in bronze; a lifesize pieta scene; a Divine Mercy prayer garden; stone tablets bearing The 10 Commandments; and a prayer of reparation for abortion. 

The lady in the Christian bookstore there informed us that conversions occur when people stop off for a rest and find their hearts touched, opened and healed by Grace. Souls unexpectedly return to God and His peace.

Since it was constructed the Cross has been knocked into 3rd place in the Biggest Cross stakes; a 198ft replica has been raised in Illinois; and an even larger one is now reputed in Spain. The Texan one is still advertised as the biggest; perhaps in peoples hearts it remains so...

Please pray for the people of Texas as they battle through Hurricane Ike and its after effects - Holy Michael the Archangel protect them!

Coming Soon - Rosaries on Route 66!


Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 14 September 2008 - 22:57:15 | by admin

texas_2.jpgFed up with travelogues that promise much, but then draw your spirits down with all the swearing, secularism, and anti-Christian ideology?
Don't worry... The answer is on the way; the book about our epic Trans-American roadtrip pilgrimage is coming... soon!

The Feast of The Triumph of The Cross


Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 14 September 2008 - 00:40:16 | by admin

golden_day_007.jpgJohn 3:14-15
'... as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.
'

By His cross and death, Jesus Christ has smashed the powers of the devil, of hell and of all evil. He has destroyed death and the power of sin. He has opened wide the door of the Church and into Heaven. Repent this day! Turn away from your sins, confess them and hurry through the open door of Mercy all the way to His Altar to receive Him in Holy Communion. Die with Him to rise from the dead with Him!

Happy Feast Day!

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